By Karen Saley, Extension Specialist, Pinellas County Extension
Well, another year has gone by and you are probably reviewing what you have accomplished this past year and what you still need to work on. Now is the time we all think about what we didn’t get accomplished in the last twelve months and vow to make it happen in the next twelve months. Whether it’s losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier, or giving up those cigarettes, this is the year it’s going to happen. Easier said than done, right?
The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions dates back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was said to have two faces which allowed him to look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions as many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies.
Now is the time to stop looking back and prepare for the wonderful year ahead. Here are a few tips to help you jump-start your new year and keep you on track with your New Years resolution.
Make a plan
You’ve heard the old saying “make a plan or plan to fail.” Choose a goal that is realistic and set up the steps to reach that goal. Sometimes a goal can seem overwhelming so break it down into smaller steps that are easier to achieve. Every step that you complete will give you a sense of accomplishment and the encouragement to continue toward your larger goal.
Put it in writing
It can be easy to let our goals slowly fade away over time, but if you have your goal written down and posted where you can look at it every day, it will be a constant reminder of what you are trying to achieve. Try not only writing the goal, but state the reasons why you chose that goal. If it’s losing weight state the reasons you want to lose weight, i.e. it will help control my diabetes or hypertension, it will allow me to play with my children without running out of breath, etc. These reasons make the goal more personal and serve as a reminder of the importance of the goal in making your life better.
Create a routine
Habits are things you do without even thinking about it. They develop over time and can be difficult to break even when they may no longer be serving you. Two ways to break an old habit and create a new one is replacement and consistency. It is often difficult to just stop doing something you have always done. Try replacing the behavior instead. If you eat ice cream every evening try eating a piece of fruit instead. Practice the new behavior as often as you can, but if you happen to slip don’t beat yourself up. Enjoy the fact that you ate the ice cream and get back on track the next day.
We can all fall into the rut of negative thinking and self criticism. Of course this serves no purpose so get out of the habit of negative thought and be kind to yourself. Reprogram your self talk to only positive thoughts. One school of thought is that we bring into our lives what we focus on so focus your thoughts on what is good in life and see yourself achieving your goals.
No one is perfect. There will be times when your enthusiasm and commitment to your goal will be high, making it easy to follow those steps to fulfillment. Then there will be the times when you question whether or not your goal is really all that important and worth the struggle. At times like this, reflect on why you chose that particular goal in the first place. There was a reason the change you are striving for is so important. Remind yourself of that reason and get back on the track to success.
Starting a new year can be fun and exciting with a new opportunity to make an important change in your life. The key is choosing a goal that is realistic and making it valuable. For more helpful hints on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions visit