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  • How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2017

    I went to the gym this weekend and noticed how crowded it was and there were a lot of new faces there.  In fact, it seemed that way for the past couple of weeks.  Then I realized it was the start of the New Year, which results in many people making Resolutions that unfortunately they will not fully keep.  One recent survey of 1,273 online, 216 phone and 73 in-person respondents revealed that 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions and 42% never make them.  Only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolution. 

    The top 2017 New Year’s Resolutions in this survey were as follows:

    1.     Lose Weight / Healthier Eating – 21.4%

    2.     Life / Self-Improvements – 12.3%

    3.     Better Financial Decisions – 8.5%

    4.     Quit Smoking – 7.1%

    5.     Do More Exciting Things – 6.3%

    6.     Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends – 6.2%

    7.     Work Out More Often – 5.5%

    8.     Learn Something New on My Own – 5.3%

    9.     Do More Good Deeds for Others – 5.2%

    10. Find the Love of My Life – 4.1%

    All of us know that keeping any resolution is hard work and requires motivation and behavior change.  In short, we are trying to establish new habits for living in an important part of our life.  This means we need to change our behavior and develop a strategy and maintain discipline to keep on track with the specific life change.

    It should come as no surprise that mental health professionals – psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors - are uniquely trained in the area of behavior change and can be of assistance to those trying to make and stick to these changes.  The  American Psychological Association lists five principles aimed to help people be more successful with New Year’s Resolutions.

    1.     Start Small – don’t try to do everything at once. Rather than say you are going to exercise 5 days a week, start with 1 or 2 days a week.

    2.     Change one behavior at a time – try not to do a full makeover of your life.  Focus on one change and stick to it rather than tackling everything at once.

    3.     Talk about it- tell others what you are planning to change.  While it can be scary to do so, there is research that shows letting others know about it keeps you more on track.  Also, consider joining a support group and finding others who want to make the same change.  Often having a buddy to do it with (e.g., go for a walk or workout at the gym) helps you stay on track since you have two people keeping each other accountable.

    4.     Don’t beat yourself up – no one is perfect and it is the expectation that you will have setbacks.  It is how you deal with these setbacks that determines your ultimate success. Most of these life changes require months, not days or weeks, so a slip once in a while is not all that important.  If you stop exercising for a week, will that turn into a month or will you get back and start again the next week?  Prepare for these setbacks so you know what you will do when they occur.

    5.     Ask for Support- Reaching out to family and friends for support can be a big help in any important life change.  If you find yourself struggling to make these changes on your own, or if there are issues you don’t feel comfortable talking about with others, reach out for professional help, such as a psychologist, social worker, psychotherapist, or professional counselor.  You can discuss your situation in a confidential environment with professionals trained to assist you in achieving your goals and improving your life.  Hopefully, you can become one of the 9.2% who achieves their New Year’s Resolution in 2017!

    If you have any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at .