New beginnings appear all the time. A season arrives, a semester begins, a job starts. All are chances to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. But there’s something different about January, something that screams “resolution” like no other.
We get it. There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to try to create a new you. You’re not the only one who thinks so; according to a recent study by the University of Scranton, about 45 percent of Americans regularly make resolutions.
That sounds great – until you continue looking at the results and realize that out of that 45 percent, only 8 percent actually are successful in achieving their resolution. For a better perspective, let’s say that every one of the estimated 10,824 students at Amarillo College last semester made a resolution. By the time Jan. 1, 2015, rolls around, just 866 of those will have achieved those goals, leaving almost 10,000 of us with those same pesky 10 pounds, a disorganized desk and a habit or two we swore we’d drop in 2014.
Year after year, resolutions are made – many times the same ones. If you’re like most, you start January full of ambition and spend February beating yourself up before throwing in the towel in March and vowing to do better next year.
Stop being a jerk to yourself. If you really want to stop smoking, get organized or spend more time with your family, quit making those broad, overly ambitious resolutions like everyone else and set some real, attainable goals. Don’t say you’re going to “lose some weight” or “be healthier” or “save some money.” You set yourself up for failure and excuses by not setting logical, measurable goals.
Instead, plan calculable goals and create a timeline for tracking those milestones. Take small, steady steps instead of giant, shaky leaps. Be realistic. Chances are, you’re not going to be a millionaire by December, but $10 a week is enough to give you more than $500 in the bank by then.
In our world of instant gratification, it’s hard to wait for the baby steps to add up, but you have to realize that goals are just like habits: they take work, effort and patience.
Above all, don’t give up. We all slip. We all have setbacks. We all need a chance to let go.
Sometimes, you need that extra piece of chocolate or a second beer, or you find out Steam is having a flash sale and you need that video game you’re missing. It’s OK. Take a step back, let go and relax for a moment without berating yourself. After all, new beginnings come all the time. Just make sure to get back on track when morning comes.