Time to Renew New Year's Resolutions
Spring is the perfect time to renew your New Year's resolutions -- or to make new ones.
By Tom Valeo
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Like millions of other Americans, you probably made some New Year's resolutions regarding your health. Maybe you wanted to lose some weight, or exercise more, or quit smoking.
And like the vast majority of Americans who made such resolutions, you probably haven't met your goal. Polls have found that by springtime, 68% of Americans who made a New Year's resolution have broken it. After one year, only 15% claim success.
But don't despair. The secret to self-improvement is persistence, not perfection. Spring is the perfect time to renew your resolutions -- or to make new ones.
"People do it all wrong," says Robert Butterworth, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. "The worst time to make New Year's resolutions is on New Year's Eve. We're exhausted after the holidays. We're stressed out. The weather is bad. Everybody is talking about it and watching what your resolutions are."
Still, at least half of Americans make New Year's resolutions, which is why health clubs, diet programs, and smoking-cessation clinics spend so much on advertising at the end of the year; they know millions of people on Dec. 31 are going to resolve to lose weight and get fit.
Spring, however, is a better time to set such goals, according to Butterworth.
"The weather is getting better," he says. "It's a less stressful time; we feel more energized."
Spring is also an ideal time to reassess your resolutions and modify your strategy for success, according to psychologist Stephen Kraus, PhD. Kraus is the author of Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil.
"I do it quarterly," Kraus says. "One of the goals my wife and I set this year was to get back into meditation. We got off to a pretty good start in January, but one thing led to another and we fell out of the habit. Now we're coming up to the end of March -- the end of the first quarter. So it's time for us to look at our goals and make plans for the second quarter. And we're going to recommit ourselves to that goal."
Ultimately, Kraus says, success depends on two things -- desire and the right strategy. The trick, therefore, is to renew your desire to achieve your goal and keep modifying your strategy until you succeed.
5 Keys to Reaching Goals
The best way to pursue success, Kraus believes, is to focus on five techniques.
Long-Term Strategy vs. Short-Term Fix
Diane Vives, owner of Vives Training Systems in Austin, Texas, tries to avoid working with clients who have made New Year's resolutions because their enthusiasm wanes so quickly.
"New Year's resolutions are a short-term fix, not a lifestyle change," said Vives, a strength and conditioning specialist certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. "They create a false sense of urgency. People tend to be more successful when they make the decision at some other time of the year."
Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox FREE!