The new year is finally here, and apart from fresh hope for some pandemic relief, many of us are also facing a litany of personal resolutions we hope to actually tackle in the 52 weeks ahead.
We maintain that hope despite many past experiences of failure – everyone knows resolutions are often made to be broken – but this year can, indeed, be the year something sticks. And for caregivers of an older adult, meeting your resolutions (or even one of them) can lead to dramatic benefits for both you and the senior in your care.
We gathered a collection of top tips from experts around the country that may give you the secret to finally keeping a New Year’s resolution.
“The more detailed you can be – ‘I’m going to save $30 a week by eating out one fewer meal’ – the [easier] it is to stay focused on what you have to do to succeed.”Larry Kubiak, PhD, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (SELF)
“Just like you shouldn’t sprint in a marathon, setting a New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be about trying to change everything you want to change in one go. One reason why so many New Year’s resolutions fail is that people often set large goals, follow them for a few days or weeks, and begin to get tired when they see there’s still so much ahead of them. When we do this, it’s like trying to sprint through the 365 days instead of pacing ourselves.”Caroline Leaf, PhD, cognitive neuroscientist, author of “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking” (Real Simple)
“When you create your resolutions, be sure to use verbiage such as ‘I want to’ rather than ‘I should.’ Those who want to see a change are far more likely to maintain resolutions compared to those whose resolutions feel like shame-induced ‘shoulds.’”Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist, author of “Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend” (Real Simple)
“Tell your best friend about your New Year’s resolution, and check in with them regularly to chat about it and make sure you’re on track. Better yet, get them on board so you’re both working toward the same goal.Kelly Mickle and Amy Marturana Winderl, CPT (SELF)
“The habit doesn’t start on the treadmill or with a closet organizer, it starts in your mind … Think about what obstacles may derail you on your resolution path. Don’t have time to go to the gym before work? Get dressed at the gym to save time. Predict your obstacles so you can prepare solutions … You don’t need company or to wait until Monday. Start now. Release the doubt, ignore the naysayers, and jump all the way in.”Dion Metzger, MD, psychiatrist (Real Simple)
“Nearly everyone will face challenges during their health journey. Perhaps it’s a busy family life, work, school, medical issues or peer pressure to continue bad habits. It’s important to identify potential challenges and envision strategies to address them as part of an effective health plan. A network of family and friends can encourage and partner with you. Consider keeping a health journal to record your activities and achievements, adding to your motivation and accountability.”Gabriel Berendes, MD, family medicine physician (Mayo Clinic Health System)
“It’s much easier to make small, gradual changes than to make drastic ones all at once. So instead of promising yourself to give up all sweets, perhaps you can reduce your sweet intake to one time/day. Even a small step toward a goal of reducing sugar intake is better than no step at all. And you’re more likely to stay motivated if you keep meeting small goals daily. Ultimately, all the small steps add up!”Cristel Antonia Russell, PhD (Psychology Today)
“[A] slow, step-wise approach builds self-efficacy, self-esteem and patience. Once we accept this, we need to be patient with ourselves and give ourselves grace if we’re not quite going at the pace we imagined.”Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist, author of “Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend” (Real Simple)