New Year, New You: Resolutions

Most of us start the New Year with grand intentions, whether they are personal, financial, or job-related. But making resolutions and sticking to them are two different things. Read on to learn ways to succeed.

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Make sure your expectations are realistic

One major reason resolutions fail is setting unrealistic goals. Let’s say your resolution is to lose weight. Believing that you can drop two dress sizes in a month not only sets you up for failure, but it can also lower your desire for improvement.
What is a realistic goal? It’s one you’re both willing and able to work toward. But don’t set the bar too low. A goal can be both high and realistic, "stretching" you to develop new skills, abilities and financial capacity to reach it. Accomplishing a similar goal in the past also increases your chances of achieving a new one.

Be specific about what you want

Experts say you have a greater chance of achieving your goal if it’s as specific as possible. For example, don’t say “I want to get in shape,” because that’s too general. Instead, ask yourself these 6 questions.
  • What is involved for me? (e.g., do you have to go on a diet, or just exercise more?)
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where will I accomplish it? (e.g., will you have to join a gym?)
  • What is my time frame?
  • What are my requirements and limitations?
  • Why do I need to reach this goal? (e.g., is it a health issue, or do you just want to look and feel better?)
Then set yourself a more specific goal, based on your answers. So instead of "I want to get in shape", your goal might be "I want to join a gym and work out for an hour every day after work, to improve my heart health."

Small changes can bring big results

When making any major life changes, it’s best to start small. Let’s say you’ve set yourself a goal to lose 10 pounds in a month and a half. Breaking that down into an even smaller chunk, that’s about 1.5 to 2 pounds a week. Once you’ve established that, you can start making some workable dietary changes. These might include:
  • Having less junk food and soda pop in the house.
  • Setting aside 3 nights a week to exercise.
  • Bringing a healthy lunch to work every day.
  • Aiming to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Have pre-cut fruits and veggies on hand when hunger strikes.

Why you should measure your progress

Measuring your progress is another important part of goal setting. First, it helps you stay on track by having concrete criteria toward reaching each goal you set. Second, it allows you to experience joy when you finally do reach that goal.
Again, it comes down to asking yourself the right questions. Let’s say your resolution is to learn a new skill. Ask yourself, "How will I know when it’s accomplished?" Steer away from generalizations such as "become better educated" to specifics such as, "I want to take a night class to learn computer programming."

Make a smaller number of resolutions

Made a long list of resolutions this year? You might consider shortening it. Research shows that too many resolutions aren’t likely to work. This is because most resolutions require many changes in behaviour.
A resolution to jog 3 times a week, for example, calls for many decisions outside of buying a new pair of runners. You may have to get up earlier in the morning, or change your daily schedule. Thinking about all the small things you need to achieve your goal will boost your chances of success. However, it may also mean that you don’t have the time to do other goals.

How to cope with setbacks

Everyone fails from time to time. Here’s how to cope with a setback.

• Don’t dwell on it. When you’re feeling down, the key is not to get stuck focusing on the negative. Try reframing your thoughts. Ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” Even noticing that you’re stuck thinking about the negative can help you move away from it.

• Remind yourself of what you achieved. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t stick to your work-outs. Make a list of things you’ve achieved in the past thanks to the changes you have made.

Don’t give up. Instead, give yourself more time.

An example of good goal setting

Specific goal: I want to lose 10 pounds.
How I will make it happen: Over the next 2-3 months, I will eat more fruits and veggies, leaner meats and exercise more in hopes of losing weight and improving my health. My goal is to walk 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. I will also take the stairs whenever I can. In my journal, I will keep track of how much I walked. I will weigh myself once a week, and also record any improvements to my health.
Be sure to write down your goals and the steps you plan to take to make them happen. This will make you more likely to reach them.

Keeping stress under control

Creating changes in your life can be stressful. You can keep stress from getting the better of you:

  • Stay positive. Instead of dwelling on failure, see if there are any lessons to be learned from a plan that didn’t work out.
  • Have healthy habits. Getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and limiting caffeine and alcohol can all help with stress.
  • Keep the big picture in view. Focus on why you want to accomplish a goal such as losing weight. Not only will you look and feel better, but you’ll likely have healthier habits. And that can help you on your next year’s goals!

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is happy to provide tips and suggestions to help make your new year a healthy one... Just ask!

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