New Year’s resolutions are a popular topic as we begin anew in 2023.
Many people plan to take advantage of this traditional time to make healthy resolutions and goals, but research shows most fail to follow through. In fact, according to research, 80% of New Year’s resolution-makers say they give them up by February.
Despite our best intentions, we often fail because we set unrealistic goals and are overenthusiastic in our expectations. For New Year’s resolutions to be meaningful and impactful, they should be practical and measurable.
Think it Through
Maintaining discipline and enthusiasm when pursuing health and wellness goals can be challenging at any time – but especially if we are burdened with numerous personal or professional responsibilities. Even though many people would like to give their physical and mental health top priority, life often gets in the way. Circumstances and other urgent priorities can prevent us from being able to devote the time and effort required to make lasting lifestyle changes that are good for our health and well-being. Others may simply be unprepared. Whether it’s not knowing where to go for help, having a busy work schedule, struggling with mental health or other factors, not having a reasonable plan to execute your goals can put you on the pathway to failure.
Life always throws us a few curveballs. But if we have a strategy for dealing with those situations, perhaps by revising our goals when changes demand it, we may still find ourselves on the path to success.
Here are some tips to help set and stay on top of New Year’s resolutions for improving physical or mental health.
When establishing goals, be realistic. Make sure you can devote the time, energy, and resources necessary for achieving them. If you can’t, it’s OK to start small and work your way gradually upwards. Unrealistic goals become unattainable, and unattainable goals ultimately result in failure and disappointment.
Create a Timeline
Establish a timeline that schedules dates and times for the activities required to achieve resolutions. Don’t be afraid to think outside the “clock.” Perhaps choosing a different time of day for your activities will solve availability problems. Also, build weekly self-check-ins into the timeline. Use that time to see how much progress you have made toward your goal, and to assess what factors have interrupted the pursuit of your activities. To give yourself some wiggle room, you can also modify your timeline in accordance with your personal circumstances.
Start a Journal
Writing a journal documenting your resolution journey can be a fruitful exercise. By articulating exactly how you feel after completing an activity, you can better reflect on the viability of your goals and track your progress. It’s a great way to demonstrate your commitment and a useful way to assess (and be proud of!) your progress and determine how far you still have to go. Reading the journal from time to time can provide additional motivation on days when tackling your resolution seems daunting.
Preventive Care Screenings
Don’t shrug off routine check-ups and exams. Preventive screenings can help catch and treat illnesses earlier, so you can continue to stay healthy and work towards your goals. And the good news is that many routine screenings are covered by health insurance plans, making them more affordable and accessible.
Not all healthcare plans will cover all preventive services at 100%, so be sure to consult your Certificate of Coverage for details. You can find your Certificate of Coverage on MyBlueKC.com, or by calling the customer service number listed on your member ID card.
Reaching your goal won’t be easy, so it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself and to build fun activities into your schedule. Everyone has a different definition of self-care – some people like meditating, others enjoy spending time outside – but almost universally, people feel reenergized after engaging in self-care. That might be the spark you need to keep going for longer than you may think possible.
Persistence and consistency are key. Most worthwhile pursuits take time, and changes in our health rarely occur overnight. Don’t give up, even if you get off track or need a few days to yourself. Use that experience as a learning moment. Assess why you relapsed into a bad habit and think about what you can do to stop it from happening in the future.