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Reader: How do I actually follow through on all of my new year’s resolutions? I always choose stuff like losing weight or staying more positive, but it backfires really quickly.
Ogonna: A resolution to us means a goal. It means that we have one item or many to check off a list and be done with it. But I’d like to point out that the new year really isn’t new. It’s just a continuation of the life we led before. Why put so much pressure on starting over if we’re really just doing the same thing as the day before?
While this sounds discouraging, it’s meant to be the opposite. I think the most realistic piece of advice I can give about following through on a new year’s resolution is this: don’t make a new year’s resolution. Instead, make a well-rounded, intentional lifestyle choice.
Many times, we think of a resolution as a one-time feat, an item to check off a laundry list. If we don’t reach that goal, we give up and call ourselves failures and say we’ll try again next year. But the real meaning of a resolution is determination and perseverance. It’s an ongoing commitment to betterment, and that’s not something you give up on at the first sign of trouble.
You say your goal is to lose weight. Identify why exactly you have this goal and make sure it’s one that will benefit your physical, mental, social and all-around wellness. For example, you might want to lose weight because you think that will get you to be healthier. But there are a lot of negative, even self-destructive ways to lose weight that in no way equate to being healthy. In this case, perhaps your target activity should be “staying healthy” and weight loss, along with higher energy, positive attitude and a stronger physique, could all be the way you measure this activity.
Don’t go to the extreme. You say you want to be healthier? Don’t swear off junk food forever. You and I both know that it’s a rare species of human that could actually resist that sweet temptation. Instead, make practical steps on achieving your goals. Give yourself a few cheat days or mark special occasions where you can eat pizza or cupcakes. Or simply start adding a salad or fruits to each meal you eat and slowly wean yourself off the unhealthy meal selections. Rewards are the best ways to keep pushing towards a goal.
Make sure you are prepared for whatever resolutions you set. It’s one thing to dream it, but do you have the materials, the means, the mindset to actually achieve it? If you don’t have the attire to start working out in the best way, save up for it. That’ll push you to work even harder since it’s your hard-earned cash invested in your goal. In addition to your own investments, get your friends and family to invest in you as well. Make a resolution with a group of people so you can hold one another accountable. Take it from “High School Musical,” it’s a lot easier to “bop to the top” if “you’re all in this together.”
Above all, don’t give in or give up until you’ve given it your all. We’re humans, which means we’re flawed by nature. I think that self-improvement is a lifelong process, not a destination.