By Meenu Arora
Some people see the New Year as a chance to start afresh. Is it time to make yet another unbreakable promise to oneself?
Let’s take a look at the New Year resolution stats. 40 to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. 75% resolutions are kept past the first week, 71% past the second week, 64% past one month and 46% past 6 months. (Source: Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4, 2002.) The four most popular New Year resolutions are related to self-improvement or education, weight, money, and relationships.
Be Specific: Like all other goals, New Year resolutions should be specific, have measurable landmarks, and a solid deadline. They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based (SMART goals). For example, if one’s resolution is to lose weight, it helps to attach a real and realistic number to the goal. Breaking down the final goal into short term goals and tracking progress can help one stay motivated. To give yourself the best chance for success, share your resolution with close family and friends who can provide support (read: nag!) to help you make the change and attain your goal.
Reward Yourself: Meeting each short term goal should be an occasion to celebrate (preferably not a box of chocolates for the weight loss goal!). This can take away some of the sting of the resolution, because, by definition, the goal is something that has been previously hard to attain. Rewarding yourself is also a way of honoring your commitment to change. Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality.
KIDS AND THE NEW YEAR
Kids can have New Year resolutions too. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released suggestions for New Year resolution for kids of different age groups. For example, preschoolers could be helped to have resolutions like cleaning up their toys, brushing their teeth twice daily and washing their hands. For kids 5-12 years old these are extended into trying out new sport or activity, wearing a helmet while biking, wearing sunscreen before going out in the sun, being friendly with other kids and not to release personal information on the Internet. Teenagers’ New Year resolutions range from proper nutrition to appropriate usage of cell phones (no texting while driving, for example), community service goals and treating other people with respect.
For Indian Americans, the New Year can be a time to get into some good habits and practices ranging from practicing vegetarianism, eating less junk food, improving fitness levels, embarking on a dream vacation, reaching out for a spiritual connection.
There are those who believe that making confident choices every day is more important than New Year resolutions. I heard a friend say, “Just give New Year resolutions a rest and in the coming year do your best!” Kudos to those who have the self-discipline and motivation to have ongoing goals and staying on track. For the rest of us, New Year’s resolutions can be a great way of kick starting our life towards a different, more positive direction. And let’s not forget to look back and give thanks for what we have and what we have already accomplished with our lives.
Meenu Arora has over 10 years of experience teaching and working with kids. She writes on topics on kids and health. She is a physician of homeopathy and currently works in a quality management position.