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Do New Year's Resolutions Work?

"New year, new you!" This concept may be all too familiar at the start of the New Year. While making goals helps craft a healthier and happier new you, do New Year's resolutions actually work?

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"New year, new you!" This concept may be all too familiar at the start of the New Year, along with millions of others.

Embracing new challenges and goals are commendable to craft a healthier and happier new you. However, it is often foreseen to not have the resolution come next year, even if they are commonly shared.

Most Common New Year's Resolutions

Reported by Inc., the top 10 New Year's Resolutions of 2019 include the following:

1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
2. Exercise more (65 percent)
3. Lose weight (54 percent)
4. Save more and spend less (32 percent)
5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)
6. Quit smoking (21 percent)
7. Read more (17 percent)
8. Find another job (16 percent)
9. Drink less alcohol (15 percent)
10. Spend more time with family and friends (13 percent)

While making such a New Year's resolution is admirable, you may want to rethink doing so…

About 60 percent admit making New Year's resolutions, though only about 8 percent are successful in achieving them. The stats are not meant to be discouraging, but rather put into perspective the faults of them.

These three reasons why you should not make a New Year's resolution help rationalize why most goals fall short.

1. New Year's resolution are often forced.
With close friends and family verifying a New Year's resolution, you may seem forced or persuaded to do the same. And though a support system often accelerates success, it is important to also tackle goals on your own terms. Forced, artificial obligations are more likely to extinguish if natural motivation is not evident and apparent.

2. New Year's resolutions tend to be lofty.
While it is necessary to exhibit excitement to tackle goals, you may have bitten off too much, too soon. The obsessive motivation may be displayed within the first few weeks, but only to diminish once the excitement has died down. For most success, it is imperative to keep motivation consistent and stable.

3. New Year's resolutions are commonly based on unrealistic expectations.
Not a runner but all of a sudden wanting to tackle a complete marathon? First off, good for you! But it is truly imperative to stay realistic with goals. Lofty expectations may leave you overwhelmed, only to lead to discouragement in the long-run.

Finding Measurable Goals Instead

Why wait until New Years? Start today! As a basic guideline, utilize the acronym "SMART" to achieve the greatest resolution success!

Specific:
Generic goals may inhibit proper focus and needed efforts to achieve them. So specific goals should be clear and precise, aiming to answer the questions of who, what, when, where, and why?

Measurable:
A measurable goal is essential to track progress and deadline setting, ultimately keeping you motivated throughout the process. A measurable goal may identify "how much?" and "how many?"

Achievable:
As previously mentioned, your goal should be attainable. Though goals should be challenging, they still should remain achievable. Answering, "How can I accomplish this goal?" can help identify resources and tools needed for its achievement. It also surfaces potential barriers that may need to be overcome.

Realistic:
Goals should be realistic and within reason. Though big dreams are admirable, it is crucial to stay honest with yourself. Likewise consider all abilities and commitments needed to acquire anticipated goals.

Timely:
Goals need target dates and times to keep you progressively moving towards it. A set time frame helps one prioritize everyday responsibilities, keeping desired goals on the forefront. They can also assist in accomplishing day-to-day tasks that align with a longer-term target goal.

SMART Goals Example: Resolutions

The top New Year's resolution to "diet or eat healthier" is generic and broad. How exactly do you want to eat healthier? What areas are you aiming to work on? Consider these areas of improvement and corresponding SMART examples to create long-term goals:

Area of improvement: Skipping breakfast

SMART example #1: "I will prepare a high-protein breakfast each morning."

Area of improvement: Eating more veggies

SMART example #2: "I will try a new veggie at least 3 times each week."

Area of improvement: Ordering takeout for lunch

SMART example #3: "I will bring my lunch four days of the week by practicing meal prep."

One can also practice healthier eating with the nation's weight loss meal delivery service! BistroMD believes healthy eating is not about eating less, but about eating better.

All meals are prepared with the freshest of ingredients and balanced with nutrients proven for sustainable weight loss. The balanced meals not only foster health and weight loss, but following through with a resolution will seem effortless!

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 28, 2016. Updated on April 16, 2019.

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