Should you make a New Year’s resolution for 2021? It’s a time-honored tradition – making a New Year’s resolution. With the turn of a calendar page, the start of a new year presents a clean slate. Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania found that tying goals to specific dates, or what they called the fresh start effect, can help people to be more effective at setting and achieving goals related to changing their behaviors. Like the 4-H motto, many of us want to “make the best better.” However, after the challenges of 2020, 2021 may be the time to give yourself a New Year’s resolution break.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t think about the coming year and what you might want to accomplish. By giving yourself a break, I mean being kind to yourself about what’s possible, especially given the current circumstances. Although setting goals can be a motivator, making too much change in a time of chronic stress can be have the opposite effect – it can actually increase our stress level and sidetrack us from taking action. Then when we don’t achieve our goal, we get discouraged and give up.
If you do decide to create a New Year’s resolution this year, here are some tips:
- Set small, specific goals. Setting small, specific goals will help you experience more immediate success, especially if your goal is one with delayed rewards.
- Accentuate the positive. Researchers in Sweden found that those who what they called approach-oriented goals were significantly more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals. In other words, focus on what you want to do, not on what you don’t want to do (e.g., eat 3 servings of vegetables a day vs. don’t eat junk food).
- Make a plan. Having a goal is great, but how will you achieve it? A resolution without a plan for achieving it will likely not succeed. Come up with some concrete things you can do and when you will do them.
- Write it down. Writing helps you remember your goal and the steps in your plan. Tape your goal in a place where you will see it to remind yourself.
- Get support. Identify a support person and give them periodic updates on your progress. The Swedish researchers found that group that received some support was more successful at keeping their resolutions.
Not surprisingly, health is at the top of the list for New Year’s resolutions. Throughout the month of January, we’ll share more information and ideas for keeping healthy in 2021.
Use this page to think about a New Year’s resolution.
Yours in Health,
#4hhealthyliving #4thH #Ohio4Hmhm #MentalHealthMatters #4HGrowsHere