A new year is about to begin, bringing with it the New Year’s parties, the Rose Parade and the dreaded “new year, new me” resolutions.
According to a survey of 2,000 people by Inc.com, about half of all resolutions have to do with improving one’s health. Other popular goals include learning a new skill, being more financially responsible and reading more. Unfortunately, according to the survey, more than half of the people surveyed said that they failed their resolutions before Jan. 31.
An excuse to be better
The beginning of the year isn’t the only time that people can pledge to better themselves, but invariably, it’s the only time people seem to want to make any changes.
Brian Bosshard, life coach and owner of 2B Life Coaching, said that for many people, a New Year’s resolution is the push they need to start working toward a goal.
“A lot of people need a prompt to set a goal, like if it’s a regular Tuesday in August, they’ll find a way to procrastinate,” Bosshard said. “Since the beginning of the new year is traditionally when people make these resolutions, it’s a good kick in the butt to do those things we’ve been saying we’re going to do all year.”
Most times, Bosshard said, the people who try to tackle a resolution on their own fail mainly because they have no one to hold them accountable.
“I think the success behind accountability has a lot to do with ego and I’ve found that people don’t like to tell people they’re going to do something then have to explain why they didn’t do it.” he said. “It takes on average three weeks to form a new habit and routine, which is why so many people will fail before the end of January. If you’re going to try to start on a resolution, make sure you begin during a period of time when you have at least three weeks to devote to it.
A healthier you
The fitness industry will enjoy a large spike in memberships in the first four to six weeks of the new year before levels return to normal, according to Andy Leskin, a lifestyle specialist at Henry Mayo Fitness and Health.
“People know the value of being healthy and fitness goals are kind of a low-hanging fruit as far as resolutions go,” Leskin said. “Losing weight and being healthy are a lot of work, which is why we call it a journey. Fitness goes in cycles, and a lot of people won’t see results as fast as they would like, and they find that frustrating — so they’ll give up and say, ‘Next year.’”
It also helps to make specific days in your calendar to go to the gym and to schedule out a menu for the week. Planning your fitness regime in advance makes it easier to make changes and accommodations throughout the week for unforeseen events, like an office pizza party, and it discourages people from making easy last-minute decisions, like stopping for a burger when they don’t know what to cook.
Everyone’s body is different, and one’s fitness and nutrition plans should be tailored to fuel the lifestyle that they want to lead, Leskin said. Rather than setting lofty, challenging goals, Leskin advises people to take their goals in small, achievable chunks that will help provide the positive reinforcement to progress further.
“Our bodies are pretty resilient and they keep trudging along despite how much we abuse them, but the great thing is that the very next day we can go work out and the very next meal we can make a healthier change,” he said.
A new chapter
One of the increasingly popular resolutions is to read more, and people often take to social media to share their “book of the month.”
Diana Roach, store manager at The Open Book, said that she often hears people say that they want to read more, but feels that it’s hard for many people to set aside the time.
“There are just too many distractions in life, like it is so easy to get lost on social media just scrolling for 30 minutes when you could have gotten so much reading done,” Roach said.
Roach believes part of the reason why people are getting more into reading is because compared to other resolutions like exercising or developing a better diet, reading seems easier and more attainable.
“People realize that reading is important and look at it like, ‘It’s not that hard; why haven’t I done it, yet?’” Roach said. “In the past few years, books have been making a comeback and there are a lot more options now like ereaders and audiobooks. Reading helps expand your mind and also changes the way you think, for example, there are studies that have shown reading more increases empathy.”
For those interested in reading more consistently, Roach suggests cutting out a dedicated block of time just to read and incorporating it into the daily schedule. She also suggested turning off your phone and letting people know not to disturb you during reading time, or going to a new environment like a coffee shop or book club, much like students will do to study.
One way to increase one’s own reading accountability is to attend a silent book club type event where people can come and quietly read their own books around other people. Roach said that part of what is helpful about events like this is that they get you out of the comfortable and familiar distractions of home and being in an environment full of books and people reading adds to the mood and serves as encouragement to read.