How To Start a Resolution

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 28th December 2012

As 2013 begins, many view the New Year as an ideal opportunity to make a resolution—so we resolve to lose weight, stop eating junk food, or quit smoking.  Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, most resolutions are abandoned and forgotten within a few weeks. 

When explaining their failure, some blamed outside forces, “There were tasty temptations all around me;” others cited a lack of knowledge, “I couldn’t figure out the nutritional information on the packages;” and many simply chose the generic character flaw, “I didn’t have the willpower.”  Although these explanations seem reasonable, they may not tell the real story.

Failure could simply be the result of the “wording” of the resolution.  For example, did you resolve to stop eating junk food at work?  Although that is certainly a healthy decision, the wording is vague and not stated as an “active” behavior.  What might be better and more easily followed is to resolve to take an apple or banana to work to eat as an afternoon snack so you can avoid a trip to the vending machine.

Maybe you’ve heard the joke: How many Psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change. 

Jokes aside, research shows that resolution success typically occurs when an individual really wants to change and is also ready to make a change.

What if you resolved to start exercising regularly?  How would you know if you were really ready to change?  The following checklist might help:

Directions: Place a check mark next to the ONE statement that best matches your current exercise habits.

_______I do not exercise regularly and I am not thinking about changing my exercise habits.
_______I do not exercise regularly, but I would like to exercise more consistently.
_______I do not exercise regularly, but I have started making small changes in my physical activity (such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.)

If you checked the first statement, you are in the Pre-contemplation Stage and not really ready to make a change.  To move forward with your resolution, you would need persuasive information that change is beneficial and concrete evidence that change is even necessary. If you checked the second statement, you are in the Contemplation Stage and almost ready.  To take the first step, you would need to know what would be involved in making the change and the will to incorporate these necessary changes. If you checked the last statement, you are in the Preparation Stage and only lacking a specific plan.  Once you received guidance, you’d be on your way to initiating action!
Modify the above checklist to gauge readiness for other behaviors by replacing the word “exercise.”  For example, if you wanted to determine if you were ready to stop smoking, the first statement would read: I smoke regularly and I am not thinking about changing my smoking habits.

If you really want to change and if you are in the appropriate “stage,” this just might be the year that you keep that resolution!