Succeeding at Your New Years Resolutions
By Megan M. Krischke, contributor
January 6, 2012 – Hanging up a new calendar offers an annual opportunity for a fresh start and new visions for how we want to live our lives. But even as we make our New Years resolutions with the best of intentions, many of us fear that this year’s resolutions will join the trash heap just like last year’s. Fortunately, there are proven steps that will greatly increase the odds of meeting our goals.
NurseConnect spoke with a cadre of experts who offered their advice on how to set and stick with your resolutions.
“Just like everyone else, nurses have great intentions when they make resolutions, but so often, life gets in the way. In addition to the demands of their personal lives, their work environment can also take a lot out of them. Shift work, extra shifts and not getting the support they need for dealing with the emotional rigors of the job, add stress to a nurse’s life,” remarked Gary Scholar, BS, MA, health and wellness consultant for the American Hospital Association, speaker, and author of Fit Nurse.
“More important than choosing specific goals is gaining clarity on your priorities. This is where nurses can take a lesson from their patients,” he continued. “Because their patients are often faced with life-threatening conditions, they develop a strong sense of their priorities. New Year’s is a great time to look at your past, present and future, evaluate your priorities and set goals in line with those priorities. You will know that you’ve picked the right priority and set the right goal if the expected outcome is transformational.”
To help determine your priorities, Jennie Turton, certified life coach, owner and founder of Invigorate Life Coaching, encourages nurses to recognize that there are seasons for everything. While a number of things might be important to you, you need to determine what is most important to you in this season of your life.
“Oftentimes our priorities will reveal themselves to us, but a practical exercise is to make a list of all the things you’d like to change. Making the list unburdens your mind from having to think about all these things and allows you to pick one thing to focus on for the next 20 to 90 days,” she explained. “If you are working on a value, but your heart isn’t in it or if you are going after too many goals simultaneously, you aren’t going to be effective.”
Turton and Bethany Thayer, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, both recommend setting “SMART” goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
“It is easy to see where we want to be, but not so easy to see what it is going to take to get us there,” commented Thayer. “If the goal is to lose 10 pounds in three months, you need an action plan that outlines what you will do to move toward that goal. Maybe you will start packing a lunch a few days a week, instead of eating out. The more specific you can be the better; say something like, ‘I will get up 10 minutes earlier on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday to pack a lunch.’”
Thayer advises that after you make your plan, step back and ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident am I that I can follow through on that plan?” If your answer is 7 or higher, then you have set out an attainable step; if it is lower than that you need to adjust your action plan.
“Regularly evaluate your action plan; maybe after a week or two you decide you could pack a lunch four days a week, or you want to take another step by committing to eating a fruit or vegetable at breakfast and lunch five days a week,” she added.
Thayer notes that most people usually know the gist of what they need to do to accomplish their goal. The key to their success, however, is deciding what to work on this week, being specific about it and evaluating their confidence level for completing it.
“If you are going to develop a new habit in any area, the first thing to do is set a SMART goal. Setting an attainable goal will build your courage and confidence and empower you to set and reach new goals. If you have a track record of starting and stopping, be diligent about finding someone who will call you to make sure you are sticking with it,” Thayer advised.
According to Caroline Leaf, Ph.D., author and developer of the Switch on Your Brain® 5-Step Learning Process, it is normal when setting a goal for a person’s brain to receive an initial “high” in anticipation of the end result, but as this high dissipates, so does the excitement. This is when the individual will be tempted to give up on the resolution. But staying with a new behavior for 21 days allows the brain to rewire and for the new behavior to become a regular habit.
“This is why accountability plays a huge role in reaching your desired outcome,” she stated. “If you set a specific goal with a deadline, create a plan for how to accomplish it and have regular accountability, your likelihood of accomplishing it jumps to 95 percent.”
Reposted article entitled: “Succeeding at Your New Years Resolutions” from: NurseConnect