Failing to plan is planning to fail, and New Year’s resolutions are no exception, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“Three reasons people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions are that the resolution isn’t realistic, a person expects an unrealistic benefit from the desired resolution or the person wasn’t prepared to make the change,” said Dr. Jenna Anding, AgriLife Extension nutrition specialist, College Station.
“Statistics also suggest that those who do make a resolution are not very successful at keeping them,” she noted. “But that’s not to say resolutions don’t work. In fact, those who make resolutions do tend to have more success at changing behaviors compared to those who don’t make resolutions.”
Anding said the best way to approach successful resolution-making is for people to first list the three behaviors they most want to change, such as eating better, saving money or exercising more.
The next step is to make a plan and come up with a series of smaller, attainable goals to work toward the final goal, she said.
Anding said improving eating habits is usually one of the top New Year’s resolutions, but that resolution should also be taken in smaller bites. “It’s best to break this into mini-goals such as committing to eating one more vegetable or fruit each day,” she said. “Other mini-goals might include eating out no more than two times a week, bringing a healthy lunch to work at least three days a week, drinking water instead of soda and eating no more than two fried foods per week.”
“Make a contingency plan for obstacles such as bad weather when you aren’t able to exercise outdoors — or if you find yourself in a restaurant that has limited healthy food choices,” she said.
Anding said it is important to choose and write down a specific date on which to begin the desired behavior change. Finally, Anding said, those who meet their goals should plan a way to reward themselves along the way.
Through the application of science-based knowledge, AgriLife Extension creates high-quality, relevant continuing education that encourages lasting and effective change.