Resolutions That Stick

To follow through with the goals you set for yourself this New Year, you must change your attitude and behavior.

"This year, I’m going to stop worrying so much."

"I will get in shape, once and for all."

"I’ll stop spending beyond my means."

"I’ll get along better with my family."

"I’ll start that business I’ve always dreamed about."

Have you made a resolution similar to one of these? Some of us want to lose weight, become more organized, or quit smoking. Others want to find a sense of purpose, more work/life balance, the courage to leave an unfulfilling career and start over. Whether it’s New Year’s Day, an important birthday, or just because we’re fed up, at some point we vow to make that one leap or give up the thing that plagues us. But by the time the rosy blush of good intentions wears off, the resolution gets pushed aside. Not because we don’t still long to have what we want, but because we just don’t know how to change.

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We say we’re going to change, we may even do it for a little while, but soon we find ourselves back to our old habits. Depending on what survey you’ve paying attention to, approximately 45 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent succeed. Ninety percent of heart patients don’t stick to the lifestyle changes they need to live longer and healthier lives. Even faced with the dramatic choice to change or die, they can’t do it. I don’t believe they want to die. They just don’t know how to make the choice for life.

Part of the problem is that we’re flooded by bad advice. Right now, I’m staring at a women’s magazine. It’s the November 28th issue and the headline blares: YOU, 43 LBS SLIMMER By Christmas! I’m sorry but you, no matter who you are, are not going to be 43 pounds slimmer in 28 days using their diet or anyone else’s. Such irresponsible "advice" does a great deal of harm. Because it creates unrealistic expectations, it increases the probability we’ll give up before we get where we want to go.

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M.J. Ryan
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