By Karen O’Hara
Last year is in the rear-view mirror and it’s time set your sights on the road ahead.
While deciding on the best route to take, consider this: Psychologists estimate less than 10 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions are able to stick with them. If you understand why, you can avoid some common obstacles.
The American Psychological Association reminds us that the start of a new year is a good time to reflect on past behavior and identify paths forward for healthier choices. It isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes.
To improve your chance of success:
- Do not make overly ambitious pledges to achieve a complete overhaul.
- Avoid promising yourself to undertake a major challenge on your own.
- Manage resolutions so they don’t increase the stress they are meant to relieve.
People who successfully keep resolutions tend to establish reasonable, incremental goals. They are also open to asking for support when they need it.
Resolving to Be Healthier
If you’ve resolved to “be healthier” in 2018, here are some tips to help you narrow down your objective:
- Identify a specific, health-related aspect of your life that you want to alter.
- Think of your resolution as a journey with mileposts along the way.
- Set measurable targets within time frames that match your lifestyle.
- Celebrate incremental progress no matter how minor it seems.
- If you backslide, forgive yourself, make adjustments and re-engage.
Let’s say your resolution is to “exercise more.” Start by picking an activity you enjoy. It will be easier to stick with it and you’ll notice how much better you feel without much effort. Determine how you want to evaluate your level of engagement. For example, if you like to walk, how many steps will you try to take per day (using a device to measure them) or what distance will you cover per week? If you swim, how often will you visit the pool? What types of strokes will you use? How many laps or minutes would you like to swim per session over what period of time?
If you resolve to “lose weight” or “improve physical performance,” ask a medical, nutrition or fitness professional to help you define personal goals based on your current health status. From there, agree on assessment measures such as increasing endurance, lowering blood pressure, incorporating more fresh foods in your diet or attending regularly scheduled group fitness classes.
Finally, check in with yourself and be honest about answers to questions such as:
- How do I feel about my personal appearance and energy level?
- Am I up to date on preventive health, dental and eye checkups?
- Do I try to “pay it forward” to help others or do I avoid engagement?
- Would I benefit from counseling on family or financial issues?
- Do I drink alcohol or take drugs to relieve physical or mental pain?
Once you acknowledge issues and behaviors that may be preventing you from taking steps to “be healthier,” you can set realistic goals and seek support from family, friends, your employer, and medical and behavioral health professionals to help you stay on track.
Karen O’Hara is Director of Marketing and Communications at WorkCare.