As many Americans work to begin the new year on the right foot by beginning their New Year’s resolutions, experts in goal setting say it’s important to aim for long-term results rather than a quick fix.
According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top 10 resolutions for 2014 begin with losing weight and end with spending more time with family. The journal reports 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions but only 8 percent are successful in achieving their resolutions.
“One of the key things is ... baby steps. Take a step of some sort, take a small step, then celebrate that somehow,” says Tom Bandy, whose roles in Bartow County include serving as a life purpose coach. “You can make all sorts of charts of ‘this is where I am and this is what I want to do,’ and those can kind of work and be helpful, but community support as well as taking small steps that you know you can do is better than a ‘this is exactly what you want to do’ goal, but one that you’re not really going to make. If it’s weight loss and you [make the goal] of something so simple as a pound a week..., in small, measurable increments, a pound a week may be far better than 10 pounds a month.”
He continued, “Part of it is what we surround ourselves with — our music, our friends, the environment — ... and you can change your environment just by going outside ... and you’re always one step away from a new direction.”
He said beyond finding community support — such as a friend with similar aspirations — to reach one’s goals, it’s important to understand one’s limitations and that meeting goals takes practice.
“All of us get stuck and all of us are stuck somewhere in several different places in life. Even though I can help a person work with their problems and help them as a sounding board, we’re all stuck somewhere in our lives. It’s just understanding failure is something that happens, we all fall short, we goof up,” Bandy said.
Rewarding oneself based on success, Bandy said, often creates a better atmosphere for growth and change versus dwelling on one’s shortcomings.
“It’s not so much what you did wrong, but sometimes celebrating successes and talking about successes is more motivating than [saying], ‘Well, I ate too much again last night,’” Bandy said. “Sometimes when you hear somebody hiked up Pine Mountain twice, it makes you think, ‘Surely I could make it once,’ so celebrating successes and talking about those can be invaluable as the accountability system of ‘What did you do wrong.’”
The University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology states 75 percent of people maintained a resolution through the first week of the new year and 46 percent maintained a resolution past six months. It also states people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who do not explicitly make resolutions.
Beyond working as a personal life purpose coach, Bandy also serves as referred parenting director at Bartow Family Resources.