By Deanna Shoss
It’s four days until the New Year. A year in which I will lose 10 pounds, stop accruing piles of papers on the kitchen counter, and just all around be a nicer person. Or will I? Statistics say…not so much.
According to the December, 2010 national Marist Poll, 56% of American adults said it was not likely at all that they would even make a resolution for 2011. And, of those who made a resolution for 2010, 60% reported they kept their resolution for at least part of the year, but 40% did not.
But don’t give up hope. “Resolutions can most definitely work,” says Lynn Shyman, LCSW, Director of Adult and Family Counseling at the JCFS Community Counseling Center in Skokie. “However, a New Year’s Resolution without a plan is merely a pipedream,” says Shyman. “First, define for yourself an achievable goal. Then break it down into smaller objectives and focus on each objective.”
Shyman adds that while it may seem counterintuitive as you launch a positive life change, it’s important to think about the roadblocks to achieving the goal. “Plan for those moments when your willpower will be challenged so the bumps don’t catch you off guard.” That might be a simple as putting your gym bag in the car before work, so that you can go straight to the gym rather than risk going home first.
Carrie Cutler, LCSW and Clinician at the JCFS counseling office in West Rogers Park, says “in my experience people who set New Year’s Eve goals kind of do it in the moment—it’s a fleeting desire to start the New Year with their best foot forward.” And, while good intentioned, without a plan it’s hard to make it stick. “It’s important to build in some accountability, either by setting time limits to see where you are in three or six months, or, even better, set goals with a friend. The partnership approach gives you a built-in cheerleader, while also adding external accountability.”
"Goals need to be actionable," says Tami Sollo, LCSW and Clinician in Northbrook, IL. “Stating ‘I have to lose 50 pounds’ might feel overwhelming. Instead, say ‘for 30 days I am going to focus on eating healthier.’ Focus on actions you can control, rather than the outcome.”
“Thinking too big-picture can overwhelm us quickly," says Shyman. “It’s important to think positive about a resolution. Creating the action plan to go with your intentions is the key to your success.”
So back to my desire to be nicer in the New Year? “How will you do that,” asks Sollo? "Will you compliment people more?”
Sounds like a plan. And did I say, “You look marvelous!” And good luck on those resolutions, too. What goals are you setting for 2012?