The concept of New Year’s resolutions has existed for centuries. In fact, ancient Babylonians were among the first people known to make resolutions over 4,000 years ago. But what inspires us to keep participating in this tradition?
“Hope is the key to living. With the New Year, many people are hopeful about achieving things they were unable to do in previous years. It’s a promise you make to yourself,” said Dr. Asim Shah, a psychiatrist with Baylor College of Medicine.
Popular resolutions – such as smoking cessation, improving nutrition, or saving money – can be healthy behavioral changes. However, trying to accomplish too much at one time can cause setbacks. Shah shares tips to help keep your resolutions this year:
- Take small steps: If you start with incremental goals, it’s easier to accomplish bigger goals. Make gradual changes (like losing one to two pounds per week rather than 10 pounds each month) that are more attainable. If you are succeeding some, you are more likely to continue and be successful.
- Change one thing at a time: If you have five resolutions and try to accomplish them all at once, it will be difficult and likely cause personal frustration. Instead, make a timeline for when you want to accomplish each resolution.
- Don’t do it alone: This especially applies to nutrition and weight loss goals. If your family members or roommates are still eating unhealthy foods, it will be more challenging to accomplish your goal. A workout buddy or close friend can motivate you to stay on track.
- Track progress: No matter the resolution, be sure to track your progress in a measurable way. This will give you some incentive and results to compare and improve upon.
“Remember to make resolutions that are doable and achievable. If you set quarterly goals, for example, you can even have a mini celebration for every accomplishment you make,” Shah said.
Dr. Shah is a professor and executive vice chair in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor.
-By Nicole Blanton