January 1, 2013

Drink More Champagne and Eat More Oysters

Drink more champagne and eat more oysters” is the best New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever heard.  Pronounced by my good friend Jennifer several years ago, it is a lesson to us all about what resolutions really can be:  positive!  Why do we feel the need to punish ourselves in the New Year?    I’ve always been a fan of using resolutions to add to your life, not to take away.   Gluttonous holiday eating and spending aside….the New Year can also be about giving yourself more. 

According to our government the most popular resolutions made each year are as follows:

  • Drink less alcohol
  • Eat healthy food
  • Get a better education
  • Get a better job
  • Get fit
  • Lose weight 
  • Manage debt
  • Manage stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Save money
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others

Traditionally, the problem with resolutions is that they are vague:  get in shape, lose weight, spend less, eat better.  How are people going to accomplish this?  Most people give up in the first few months of the year.  There is lots of good information about how to succeed.  The flood of material on NY resolutions began mid-December.  I have been reading article after article in magazines and on every website and blog.  There is some good information out there.  Last January 2012 the NY Times presented a nice article on how to stick with your resolutions.  

Instead of how to succeed in permanent change (which is basically what my entire career is about because behavior change is incredibly challenging and complex), I’d rather focus on how to set better goals in the first place.  January is refreshing; it has energy.  Most people’s schedule slows after the holiday parties and family gatherings.  The weather can drive us inside more of the time.  The New Year can be a time of reflection on where we are coming from and where we want to go in the future.  It makes sense that people feel this time of change strongly.  I recommend two simple steps that can help anyone make positive changes in the New Year:

  1. Be more specific.  Ever heard of a SMART goal?  Your goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.  Think “go on a trip” vs. “take a 2 week vacation to Scotland in May”. 
  1.  2.  Be action oriented.  It would be nice to plan that vacation, so do it!  Request the time off work.  Make a plan to save money.  Set a travel alert on flight websites to track trends in price.  Then just go.   You want to volunteer?  Find a place and sign up to attend.  Get fit?  Join a gym.  Of course these first steps do not guarantee you will stick with your changes, but taking action is a lot better than just daydreaming about your goals. 

Good luck out there, positive change, and Happy 2013!!

No comments:

Post a Comment