Best kept promises: New Year’s resolutions

Without trying to be too redundant, I would like to follow-up on Christine Such’s January 11 column on New Year’s Resolutions

A number of Sun City residents were interviewed by Such and gave their opinions on making and following through with resolutions. Some seemed skeptical of the future success for their plans. Here are statistics for them and the rest of Sun City that may cast a more optimistic glow on making self-improvement lists for our very new year.

In a 2013 December study, some 60% of Americans (all ages, gender, and socioeconomic status) reported that they planned to make at least one resolution. By January 1, as Such reported, only 40% of those studied actually did. However, those who became goal-oriented were found to be 10 times more likely to succeed than those having similar goals who didn’t make a strong resolution. More importantly and contrary to public opinion, about 44% of people who do make specific New Year’s commitments have been found to actually stick to them after 6 months.

John C. Norcross, a distinguished professor of psychology at Scranton’s Pennsylvania University, is the author of “Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.” He definitely agrees with our Sun Day reporter’s statement: “Experts say your goals should be specific, achievable, measurable, and relevant.” 

He highlights his 5-step plan with these statements and quotes: 

1.  The best kept promises involve self-improvement, the vast majority pertaining to health, money, and social relationships in our daily lives. 

2.  “Studies have shown that “coactions” of two linked behaviors can mutually benefit one another.” Examples are diet and exercise, saving money and developing a monthly budget. 

3.  Finding a healthy substitute for a behavior to be cut out makes people more successful too. “If you suddenly stop smoking, you will be more anxious, so you need to exercise or meditate to replace the effects of nicotine.”

4.  “People that prepare beforehand do better (as in all things in life).” 

5.  One of our Sun City interviewees was concerned with failing to continue to keep his promise of improved behavior. Dr. Norcross says that this is a common fear known as “abstinence violation.” “If you stayed on budget for six weeks and then you violated the goal, you might say “I blew it; I’m done.”

That’s the wrong approach. 

“The way you respond to that first lapse profoundly influences whether you’re likely to get back on the horse.” 

Staying optimistic and realizing it’s only human to fail can lead to recommitting to the goal. 

“Turns out the slippers are more motivated after the slip. It was a wake-up call.”  

The key is not to give up. 

“We get better at achieving our goals with time.”   

Seniors, who’s up for the challenge of improving your own lives and those of family and friends you interact with? After all – it is still the month of January!

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