New Year’s Resolutions: How to Make Them Stick
By Melanie Algermissen, Assistant Vice President, Wellness, Methodist Health System
Christmas day has come and gone. Now it’s time to start that diet, exercise more, quit smoking, or spend less money. Or maybe you’ve given up on resolutions since your great intentions seem to fizzle out a couple of weeks into the new year.
Many of us fail at New Year’s resolutions because we choose goals that are unattainable and unrealistic, we don’t have a plan in place to sustain them, or we don’t hold ourselves accountable. The fact is, it’s hard to make significant lifestyle changes because change involves much more than willpower.
The good news is if you make resolutions, you are 10 times more likely to attain the lifestyle changes you desire compared to those who don’t set goals. Regardless of your experience with resolutions, it is possible to set a realistic goal and achieve it.
Here are five tips to help you achieve your 2012 resolutions:
1. Set a specific goal and list the incremental stepping stones that are required to help you achieve your goal. Make the steps measurable and realistic, and include an “achieve by” date.
2. Focus on motivation. Why do you want to achieve this goal? What is your real motivation? Beside your goal, list the benefits of achieving it — what are you really going to gain? My goal, for example, is to lose 20 pounds. One of the benefits of losing this weight is I’ll be better able to keep up with my grandchildren. The other benefit is I’m going to my 20-year high school reunion and will feel more confident seeing old friends.
3. Provide accountability in the form of a support system. This is critical. To whom are you going to answer — a friend, relative, physician, or combination of these? Then schedule ways to be accountable with your support system, such as walking with a friend three days a week.
4. Reward yourself appropriately when you achieve a stepping stone, but make sure the reward doesn’t contradict your overall goal. If weight loss is your goal, for example, don’t reward yourself with a hot fudge sundae. Instead, pick a reward such as going to a movie, buying new workout gear, registering for a 5K, treating yourself to an afternoon with your kids, etc. And make sure it feels like a pat on the back.
5. Most important, self-monitor your progress. If you’re working out, track the length of your workout and what you did. Can you convert the exercise to calorie burn? If your objective is to quit smoking, track the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and monitor the decreasing number of cigarettes so you can see how you’re improving.
You can also see if your current employer has programs available to improve employee health. At Methodist Health System, our Live Well, Shine Bright wellness program offers a variety of low- or no-cost tools for employees such as health coaching with individual or group support. We also participate in Live Healthy North Texas, a 100-day challenge where employees form teams and track their collective weight loss and physical activities. In 2011, Methodist employees lost 4,000 pounds and logged 7.6 million activity minutes. Other support services focus on weight management, tobacco cessation, stress management, and one-on-one physician support.
Additionally, employees who participate in our wellness program and show improvements in their health will be eligible for medical insurance discounts if they’re on the Methodist health plan. We anticipate adding new benefits for healthy habits year after year to keep the momentum going.
So what are you waiting for? It’s a new year. There’s no better time to set your priorities and plan for your success!
Methodist Health System is committed to being named the healthiest health system in America by 2016. To be part of a team that takes employee health seriously, visit Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.
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