Saturday, January 17th was Ditch Your Resolutions Day. Not because ditching your New Year’s Resolutions is a good thing to do, but because statistically speaking 17 days is about as long as most people stick to their resolutions.
If your resolution was worth making, though — if you resolved to quit smoking, to eat more vegetables, to exercise regularly or to sleep more — it’s worth trying again. Here are some ways to restart that resolution.
Make sure your resolution can be kept.
If your resolution was to lose 5 pounds a week, you might be ready to give up now because you’ve only lost 1 pound in 17 days. But half a pound a week is a healthy rate of weight loss for most people. If your resolution was “Exercise more,” you might be ready to give up because you can’t even tell whether you’re succeeding. What’s more? Maybe you should reframe that resolution to “Walk the dog for 30 minutes, 4 days a week.” That way, you can tell when you’re succeeding — and celebrate.
Most people who quit smoking try more than once before they succeed. Some resolutions are hard. If you tried and haven’t succeeded yet, you might be tempted to give up. Instead, try again. Look back on the past couple of weeks and see the small victories. Was there a day when you did without the soda you want to give up? Did you get to the gym twice since New Year’s Day when you hadn’t been at all in December? Celebrate those accomplishments and recommit to your resolutions.
Be aware of stress.
The most common reason people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions is not lack of willpower, laziness, or lack of desire to change. The most common reason is stress. We have a rough day and respond by reaching for something that has made us feel better in the past at stressful times: a smoke, a drink, a candy bar. Instead, get outside, have a relaxing bath, take a walk, or do something productive with your hands such as knitting or playing a musical instrument. Spending time tuning your car’s engine or digging in the garden can be soothing and distracting… so you’ll feel recharged and more able to stick with your resolutions.
Get help if you need it.
Your resolutions might be hard to keep. They might be hard enough that you’ll do better with a support group, a system for overcoming the things that hold you back, or a visit with your health-care professional. Before you give up on your health resolutions, talk with your doctor. You don’t have to do it alone.