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Experts say for resolutions, consistency is key

Posted: December 31, 2013 2:38 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2013 2:38 p.m.
Experts say most New Year's resolutions fail. Experts say most New Year's resolutions fail.
Experts say most New Year's resolutions fail.

For many, the New Year brings new opportunity.

We’re going to eat better. We’re going to exercise more. We’re going to read more books. We’re going to be kinder and more pleasant.

With the new year upon us, it’s resolution time once again.

But why is Jan. 1 such a popular time for people to set personal goals?

“I think intrinsically we want to be better, feel better and do better in life,” said Dilyse Diaz, a licensed psychotherapist who maintains a private practice in Valencia. “And so I think we have a drive inside of us to strive for the ideals.”

About one-third of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, according to a CBS News poll, but the practice itself dates back centuries.

The ancient Babylonians held a religious festival that included promises to the gods to repay debts. The Romans held a similar festival to make promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

Today, the act of making resolutions is largely secular and, more often than not, personal.

Actually following through on a resolution can be difficult, however. Only about half of the people who make New Year’s resolutions end up following through on their pledges, according to the CBS News poll.

“It’s really easy to say we’re going to be better,” Diaz said. “But the work that is required to do better is difficult and tedious, and it requires breaking bad habits and implementing new habits or new behaviors over and over again.”

Some ways to help make a resolution stick include starting small, according to the American Psychological Association. If you’re looking to get back in shape, try going to the gym two or three times a week to start and building up from there.

Another strategy is to share your resolution with co-workers or family members for support and accountability, according to the association.

Diaz also recommends placing reminders of a resolution around your home to reinforce the goal.

But perhaps the most important way to keep a resolution is to not beat yourself up if you happen to slip up.

“If you fall off track, tell yourself, ‘It’s no big deal. Everybody falls off track,’ and then immediately get back on board and keep going,” Diaz said. “It requires small changes to create a new foundation for a better life for tomorrow.”

It’s also important to recognize the small steps that will help you realize your eventual goal, according to Diaz.

“Give yourself that ‘good job,’ that ‘attaboy’ for the small steps you do take,” she said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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