It's a few days into 2014. Have you already broken your New Year's resolution? If so, you are not alone. According to Dr. John C. Norcross, a professor at the University of Scranton, you are actually keeping company with 92 percent of the population who don't achieve the resolutions they set.
Resolutions typically fail because they are too generic, without a concrete follow-through plan. That grand resolution to change actually sets you up with unrealistic expectations, can led to disappointment, and is ultimately why people just give up. Resolutions are typically viewed as the one shot people give themselves the entire year to change or break a habit that has been ingrained for a sustained period of time. No pressure right?
This year, decide to make a lifestyle change instead of a resolution. The American Psychological Association recommends you approach these changes in small steps, changing one behavior at a time. Let's take a look at four of the most popular New Year's resolutions and ways to refine a broad statement into a manageable and attainable goal.
1) Lose Weight
Who doesn't want to shed a few pounds especially after the holidays? But even attaching a number to your resolution -- five pounds, 10 pounds, 50 pounds -- doesn't give you a measurable target, it just gives you the end game. Instead choose an area of focus such as eating less meat, consuming less sugar or managing your portion size. This way you can pat yourself on the back if you grab a yogurt for breakfast, a salad with almonds for lunch, and quinoa with steamed vegetables for dinner. And hey if you end up eating a chocolate bar during the week it doesn't mean you failed, it just means that next week you should focus on not eating one or eating just half.
2) Spend Less, Save More
One of the easiest ways to achieve this change is to ask your employer to take money out of your paycheck before it even hits your bank account. Putting money into a 401K or IRA enables you to save for retirement and forcibly changes your spending habits simply because there's less money available to spend. Already saving this way? Then try some other simple techniques such as brown bagging your lunch or dusting off your library card to so you can enjoy books and DVDs for free.
3) Stay Fit
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association reports that 12 percent of new gym members join in the month of January. Sound familiar? My advice: forget the gym altogether and commit to moving more today and then you did yesterday. The "Calories In and Calories Out" equation is a real thing. Start increasing your physical activity by walking the dog for a fast paced 15 minutes instead of lollygagging. Decide to walk to a coworker's office to ask a question instead of sending an email or picking up the phone. Begin your day with five burpee exercises or do squats and lunges while watching TV. Start with what ever type of movement seems sustainable to you and then build the intensity once you've formed a new healthy habit.
4) Spend more time with Family
These days the easiest way to carve out more family time is by doing a digital detox. 2013 Pew Research Studies found that 56 percent of American adults own a smartphone, while 74 percent of American teens are connected to the internet via smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices. These percentages increase yearly and leave everyone less physically connected than ever before. Take a stand in your house by creating a digital-free zone around the dinner table and encouraging kids to participate in real conversation. Decide to make a family rule to leave all digital devices in the hotel safe when traveling on a family vacation giving you time to create actual memories together, not just Instagram photos of your time together. By limiting technology usage you'll literally be able to increase face time with those you love.
Just remember not to be too hard on yourself. If you skip a few days or feel like you are failing, it's all part of the process. Take a deep breath, recall the positive thinking that motivated you to make a lifestyle change in the first place and start fresh. Change is a process and as former President Bill Clinton reminds us, "The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change."