New Year's Resolutions: 2016 Edition

Thanksgiving belongs to yesterday, and Christmas is almost here, which means the New Year is right around the corner. Plenty of people see 2016 as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. According to Nielsen, the top resolution for 2015 was “stay fit and healthy” (followed closely by “lose weight” and “enjoy life to the fullest”). Chances are the resolutions for 2016 will be quite similar.

Forbes reported only eight percent of people achieve their resolutions. While varying factors are given for the lackluster number, the bottom line is that most people are not ready to make the life change needed to accomplish their resolutions. This does not stop people from treating the New Year as an eradicator of all bad habits they possess.

Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues coined the term “false hope syndrome” to explain the reason people make such unrealistic resolutions. Basically, the professors believe the resolutions are “positive affirmations” a person hopes for, but does not actually believe about himself.

Instead of giving up on New Year’s resolutions, take these three steps to achieve your 2016 health and fitness goals.

  1. Focus on one simple resolution, instead of three or more. People often see resolutions as the answer to their lifestyle prayers. A resolution might help get a diet on track, but it will not ensure success—especially if the goal is too drastic. Want to eat healthier? Do as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition suggests and fill half of your plate with vegetables. Make small changes throughout the year, instead of overloading yourself with too much change at one time.

  2. Think ahead. Instead of choosing your resolution 30 minutes before the ball drops this year, consider your best option now. Determine what you want to change in your life, and create a plan. If you want to exercise more, then research starter exercises, find an exercise partner, and schedule time. (Some programs like “Couch to 5K” provide a week-by-week plan.)

  3. Remember fulfilling your resolution is a marathon, not a sprint. Your 2016 resolution does not need to be met in the first two weeks, or even the first two months of the New Year. The name implies the goal is good for an entire year. Set realistic goals throughout the year, and celebrate your milestones. If you want to lose 20 pounds, map out your projected progress over the course of the year (and let someone you trust know the plan).

Equipped with these simple steps, you could be a part of the eight percent who manage to see their resolution to completion. (Or, even better, you might be the reason the number is boosted up to nine percent!) So give your resolution some sincere thought, make a plan, and get prepared because you will have a lot to celebrate next December.