By: Cheryl Hajjar – January, 2015
Congratulations! You have decided to join the ambitious 45% of Americans who have vowed to stick to their New Years Resolutions. Kudos to you. This is the year that you will stick too all of them. You have promised yourself that you will lose 50 pounds, quit those dreaded cigarettes, and take control of your financial future. Sounds quite lofty and pretty vague to me. You mine as well add to the list to stop the racial rioting in this country single handedly and win the Nobel Prize award in 2015 as well.
Why do so many Americans write these resolutions for themselves every year only to set the platform up for their epic failure? A few reasons; your goals are too vague without a strategic plan in place for their execution and either too difficult or too many. We as humans respond to self-gratifying activities. So it would make sense to set up smaller goals within the goals to achieve that immediate sense of accomplishment. This will help you stay focused on the goal throughout the year. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts of the 3 most popular New Years Resolutions.
LOSING WEIGHT – The most popular resolution goal ever in the history of goals. However, saying you want to lose weight without a plan in place is just silly, yet so many of us do it.
1. DON’T eliminate entire food groups. This is an epic failure. Food groups were designed to give us beneficial nutrients. Cutting one out of your diet entirely will surely add to a deficiency which is turn creates cravings. Do, for example switch from whole milk to skim milk in your coffee or simply adding an extra veggie or fruit to your daily regimen. A small daily change can add to a larger results months down the road. Depriving yourself is not the way to go for long-term change.
2. DON’T cut out restaurant eating until you lose that certain amount of weight. This is a recipe for disaster. Eating out is a social event and unless you plan on not being social and locking yourself in your room for the next 6 months, you will surely fail on this one. Do learn however to make better choices at the dinner table, like asking for the chef to broil your haddock without the breadcrumbs, or skipping the bread and having a salad instead before your entrée. There is no reason to cut out dining out to drop a few pounds.
3. DON’T say you will not eat any junk food for a time period like 30, 60 or 90 days. This is a binge-eating landslide waiting to happen. Putting a time frame on something is a surefire way to fail. Do allow for example for healthy eating during the week, then allow yourself one or two treats on the weekends when our social schedules are in sync. The next day after the treat, jump back on the healthy eating plan. You will feel satisfied and motivated to stick to the weekly eating schedule.
QUITTING A HABIT – Smoking, biting your nails, cutting out caffeine. Whatever your poison is, it needs baby steps.
1. DON’T go cold turkey unless you know you can bear the withdrawals. It is very difficult to decide to quit a habit so abruptly. Do however try small cutbacks like cutting back on that extra cup of coffee or switching it to a decaf. Most habits beyond the addiction are physical habits like lifting a cigarette up to your mouth or just having it in your hand. Replacing that physical habit can certainly help.
2. DON’T replace a habit with another habit. Taking up cigar smoking when you are trying to quit cigarette smoking would not be a good idea. Do however replace that afternoon cigarette with an afternoon jog or a trip to the gym. That’s a healthy habit to form.
FINANCIAL CHANGES – Another big New Years Resolution. Whether its saving more money, or paying down debt, we all want a healthier outlook on our finances, but are we willing to make the small changes necessary to see long term gains?
1. DON’T do a monthly savings amount, Do a weekly saving amount. Whether you want to save an extra $100 a month or $1,000 a month, break it into 4 payments. $25 dollars a week is a lot easier than taking the extra $100 a month and putting it into your savings. By taking it in a smaller payments, it will keep you conscious of how you are spending your money also. Maybe if you cut out that extra trip to McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts everyday, you will be able to sock away that extra cash a little easier.
2. DON’T look at your credit card bills like a mountain of never ending debt that will never get paid off. Do set weekly goals to stop buying things on credit. If you don’t have the money in your checking account to buy it then you cannot afford it. This will also help you get discipline with your purchases, separating them into two categories; wants and needs. Do you really need that new coat just because TJMaxx is having a great sale on coats, or that 14th pair of colored UGGS? Unless you have a bank account like Britney Spears, resist the urge, it will pass as you leave the store.
It takes 30 days to create a habit and 90 days to stop one. So making your New Years resolutions can be fun and quite rewarding if done in small steps. We learn to eat the elephant in life one bite at a time, so making slight daily adjustments can add up to very significant changes for the long term.