Every year in January, we begin thinking of new “resolutions” and goals. With high hopes and renewed determination, we begin working on these commitments, usually until about the middle of February, if we are lucky. The truth is, most New Year’s Resolutions do not last for a full week. Promises to “lose weight” and “eat healthier” are often among the first to be forgotten. In order to see lifestyle changes that last, it is important that we create resolution statements that are clear, positive, measurable, and have a purpose.
First, resolution statements are more effective when they are positive. Rather than resolving “not” to do something, find and state the opposite. For example, instead of saying, “I’m not going to eat donuts,” we can say, “I will prepare whole, healthy foods for breakfast.” We are more likely to keep promises we have made when they are stated in the affirmative. This keeps the focus off of the donuts, which are easier to resist on a full stomach anyway.
Second, resolution statements have to be measurable. Rather than simply trying to be “more active” or go to the gym “more often,” it is best to be specific about your goals, so you can easily measure when you have attained them. With this in mind, we can expand the earlier goal to include how often we resolve to keep this commitment by saying, “I will prepare whole, healthy foods for breakfast every day before leaving for work.” This allows for some flexibility on weekends while holding us accountable on weekdays.
Lastly, resolution statements are most successful when they are tied to a purpose. To conclude the statement, we have to decide why we want this goal and why it is important in our lives. One Sunday, just as I finished teaching my fitness class, a participant approached me and explained why she appreciated my class. She said, “All of your younger women in here may be taking this class to get in shape and wear a bikini. I am here to get stronger so I can hold my grandbabies.” What a perfect statement of purpose!
For the finishing touch on our resolutions, it is wonderfully effective to begin each one with the phrase, “I promise myself.” So, the person who wants to stop eating the free donuts at work might say, “I promise myself to prepare whole, healthy foods for breakfast each day before leaving home so I can have more focus and energy to contribute to my work.” The combinations and possibilities for resolution statements are endless!
This year, instead of making careless wishes that fall to the wayside in the bustle of life, we can create lasting changes in our lives by writing affirmative statements that are tied to the things that are most important to us. Once we have created these statements, we can put them in places where we can see them as reminders throughout the day. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”
Every decision counts.