I just ran into a friend of mine who quit smoking December 25th. Now she wants to lose twenty pounds by March, secure a new job, and find her dream guy. Do I think this is realistic? No. Do I think she could conquer one of those things in 2010? Absolutely.
Here’s what I think – we make New Year’s resolutions unattainable so it justifies the quitting in February. We’ve all done it. Here are a few examples of attainable and unattainble New Year’s resolutions I’ve made in the past:
Unattainable: At age 8 I read “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and set a goal of pushing on the back of my closet wall for one hour a day until I entered Narnia. Specific, but definitely not attainable.
Attainable:I set a goal of saving money made with my roller-skating goals (one dime to see me spin to “California, Here I Come”) to buy a plastic, lime-green notebook for fourth grade. No Narnia that year, but I did get my notebook!
Unattainable:At age 18, I wanted to dye my hair brown and wear jeans and look just like Sally Field did in “Smokey and the Bandit.” Okay, I know that she now does commercials for osteoporosis, but in my teenage years the woman could wear a pair of jeans! Why was this unattainable? Because Sally Field was a natural brunette who weighed 108 lbs and had this tiny little frame, while I was a dirty blonde that was built to play softball.
Attainable:I set a goal of losing ten pounds that same year by cutting out sodas, exercising four hours per week, and not eating after 8:00 p.m. at night. Why was this attainable? Because the goal was realistic and specific. I knew exactly what I was going to do and could implement the new behaviors immediately. And, I was striving to be a better me rather than striving to look like someone else!
Though many will slam New Year’s Resolutions as a waste of time, I think any behavior change can be obtained if you have enough passion for the result, can achieve the goal with resources at hand and break it down into very specific behaviors. If you choose to make unrealistic New Year’s resolutions this year, I think you might just want to enjoy the week up to New Year’s where you justify some bad behavior by saying “This will have to stop after January 1st, so I’m going to enjoy it now.” Yep, been there, done that.
Hey, it’s a new decade! I’m going to choose a realistic behavior and start changing. It will keep me young. If Sally Field can star in a new television show (Brothers & Sisters) rather than sitting around worrying about her bones, I can do it too! Come on, the TransAm is now a Prius but we’re still ready to take a risk and make a change, right?