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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

by Erin McAllister, Paralegal

Yes, it is that time of year. Everyone has had their fill of Christmas cookies, egg nog and candy canes. We are looking forward to a new year which brings the hope of new beginnings. Maybe you want to be thinner, smarter, punctual or nicotine free. The question then becomes why so many New Year’s resolutions are broken before January turns to February.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions and by June, 54% have abandoned their attempts. 39% of people in their twenties achieve their resolution each year and only 14% of people over 50 are able to achieve their resolution.

The top ten New Year’s resolutions for last year were:

1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
6 Learn Something Exciting
7 Quit Smoking
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
9 Fall in Love
10 Spend More Time with Family

Having all the aforementioned evidence, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t. How do you become one of the successful people when it comes to resolutions? Statistics tell us that in this case, less is more. People are more successful if they set one clear goal. It also helps if the goal has benchmarks that can be measured and observed. Deliberately design your life so that you are more likely to succeed and not just relying on willpower alone. That means making realistic and attainable goals, publicly declaring them so that others will encourage and help you and then reward yourself for your successes.

Brain scientists Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you're faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by "not trying to do it," in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking. They also discovered that will power is like any other muscle. It has a finite strength and cannot be relied on to carry you indefinitely.

It is important to remember that the New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

Looking for help is another aid in accomplishing your goal. Consider finding an accountability buddy or workout buddy. Support groups may also help as you surround yourself with people having the same struggle during this time of change. Being part of a group makes it easier to be consistent.

To be successful with your 2016 New Year’s resolutions, try setting one specific goal. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 3 months is. Make the goal measurable in small increments. If running a marathon is your goal for 2016, you could begin by running 5k’s, mini marathons and other smaller races to lead up to the marathon. Be realistic with the change that you are pursuing and choose finite times to mark your progress. Finally, set a reward for yourself when the goal is achieved.

This information is made available by Spaulding Law for educational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. By using this website, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Spaulding Law, unless you have entered into a separate representation agreement. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

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