The holidays have come and gone and soon we’ll try to rebuild our savings account! One thing that’s in full throttle is our quest to fulfill those pesky New Year’s resolutions. Among the most popular resolutions are – losing weight, quit smoking, eating healthy, and learning something new. It’s January 3rd and by now, let’s face it, you’ve probably already given up.
More than half of those who actually try to keep their promises fail to do so after six months, which only goes to show that most of us suck at keeping promises… even to ourselves. But what about the others? You know, the ones who actually succeed at changing something in the New Year? Believe it or not, there is some psychology mumbo jumbo behind all of it, and most of it has to do with self-control. Of which, I have none.
Losing weight is a classic, yet perfect example of a New Year’s resolution that quickly fails. For your local gym, January is the month that sees the highest rate of enrollment, but trends show that attendance dwindles in mid-March to April. Making that $400 a year a complete waste. Think of all the shoes you could have bought!
If you’re like me, January is best described as “Operation: Lose The Chub”. Last year, I was averaging four to five times a week of 2-hour cardio and muscle workouts. In February the gym saw me about two to three times a week, and by March my personal trainer was lucky to even catch a glimpse of me on the elliptical. By the summer I had completely forgotten about my New Year’s promise and was worrying about my tan instead.
Good news – There are ways around the looming failure of your resolutions. The trick is to start off with small goals and to measure your progress.
Losing Weight – Considering that the effort it for you to get up from the sofa to answer the phone left you wheezing and hungry, I’d say that you’re likely to burn out within the first month of your five-day workout regiment. You’ll hate the gym and all the people in it. Plan to frequent the gym one to two times a week. Once you achieve this goal, you’ll not only feel sorry for your loser friends who gave up, but you’ll be in the right frame of mind to up the gym visits to three times a week.
Quit Smoking – Although, quitting the tobacco is difficult, the same principle applies to this bad habit. Easy does it. I’m not a fan of ‘cold turkey’ and neither are the innocent bystanders who find themselves in your path of nicotine withdrawal. If you’re used to smoking a pack a day, cut it down to half for the first week. As time passes, continue to limit your daily cancer intake. Most of the time people smoke because they’re bored. Substitute you’re addiction for something more constructive but equally as dangerous. If you substitute the cigs for drinking tea, you’ll relapse. But if you substitute them for a hobby like cliff diving or alligator wrestling, you might have a fighting chance. Again, keep a record how many smokes you have a day, you’ll be proud when you notice that you’ve only had three cigarettes as opposed to nine.
Eat Healthy – Usually considered to be one of the easiest resolutions, eating healthy is actually one of the most problematic. People just don’t have time, or are too lazy to care. Eating healthy can be simple when you pay attention to you’re eating habits, i.e. if you consider chilli-fries to be a vegetable, then your perception of food may need some retooling. If you’re also likely to skip breakfast, lunch and chow down on some greasy burgers from a fast-food joint on the way home for dinner, then you might want to start there. The fastest way to get yourself eating better is by making a decent lunch and snack for work the night before. You don’t have to be a nerd about it, but packing some celery and carrots go a long way in the fight against the bulge.
Learning Something New – I know a girl who woke up one morning and decided that she wanted to play the guitar. At 29-years-old she went to the nearest music school and got down to business. Now, three years later, she puts on little shows in her hometown’s local bar during open-mic nights. My brief stint as a potential guitarist was a complete bust. I didn’t sign up for classes and thought that I would be able to learn the essentials off YouTube. I cannot be trusted to teach myself things if I’m not getting paid to do so. YouTube is great for many things: learning a recipe, LOLCats, and watching the latest Taylor Swift video in secret. Teaching yourself how to play an instrument is often not one of them. If your resolution is one that takes this much effort, than it’s best for you to just dive in and pay the money you need to become the next Jimmy Page.
Remember: keeping the goals small and monumental will give your resolutions a fighting chance – at least for a while longer anyways.
By Angelique Picanco