Making New Year’s resolutions stick

It’s that time again when many of us vow to change by making New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s finally quitting smoking, losing weight or getting off the couch to exercise, most people look to the New Year as a springboard to transformation.

This year, Ivan has given more weight to those promises – with an earthquake as a reminder.

‘We’ve been shaken up, literally,’ says Donna Mitchell, a local lifestyle and weight loss consultant. ‘People have realized the mortality that faces us all. It’s a whole new way of looking at life and people are more determined than ever to have a better quality of life.’

Yet, as most of us know, resolutions have a way of falling by the wayside. Indeed, many begin to fade by February, if not sooner.

Mitchell says there are ways to help make those promises translate into permanent positive change. First, however, you must decide if you are truly willing to make the effort. Lasting change means being prepared to make sacrifices, she said.

‘The end result has to have more reward than what you’re giving up. It has to mean something to us.’

Here are some tips that may help:

Be accountable. Tell someone you trust – a friend, family member or counsellor – about your resolution who can be there to lend support and encouragement. It will help keep you motivated.

Write down your goals. ‘When we write something down, it helps us to focus on the goal.’ It’s also a way to chart your progress. Keeping track of small accomplishments toward an overall goal is another motivator.

Stick with it. Mitchell says most people become discouraged and give up when results don’t happen quickly enough, or when they feel a sense of failure if they slip up. It prompts many to abandon their whole resolution. Expect to falter, and then move on and try again.

Give it time. Any behavioural change takes at least three to four weeks to become a habit. ‘You have to have a detox time in order to start feeling good.’

Keep trying. If your resolutions have fizzled, start again. There’s no reason you can’t make a resolution any time of year. ‘Every day is a new beginning. That’s all we have anyway – today and this moment.’

Set realistic goals. ‘Don’t expect to become a superhuman person just because it’s January 1,’ says Mitchell. ‘We’re a work in progress. New Year’s can be a catalyst for change but you have to be careful not to set yourself up for a big fall.’

New Year’s is a perfect time to make permanent changes for the good.