Dr. Sharolyn Dihigo, DNP, RN, CPNP // Jan 04, 2018

Do you make New Year’s resolutions with a serious intent to change only to find yourself quickly slipping back into your old patterns and habits just a few weeks into the new year? Making New Year’s resolutions dates to 4000 years ago and started with the Roman gods promising to return things that were borrowed or repay debts owed. This long-standing tradition has been carried on for centuries. Nowadays, 80 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent are successful at sticking to their goals 3 weeks later.

Why is this? People often reach for the moon and the stars. Most New Year’s resolutions are made attempting to change a major habit such as giving up all carbs, quitting smoking or drinking, or losing 50 pounds or more. Then a few weeks into the new year, they give up due to minor setbacks. Without positive reinforcement and die-hard dedication, most people have just set themselves up for failure instead of success.

One of the first things we learn in nursing school is to set reasonable and achievable goals for our patients, then we create a care plan specific to each patient and help them achieve those goals through tiny steps. We learn to plan for success!

Approaching your own life’s goals should be much the same. If you set a lofty and unreachable goal for yourself at the beginning of the year, you are setting yourself up for failure if you haven’t also laid out baby steps and given yourself the appropriate time frame to reach it.

The best way to achieve any goal is to first make sure it is realistic and attainable. Perhaps set a big overarching goal for yourself but not without thinking through 4-5 small goals to help you get there. If you want to lose weight, perhaps you should start with a goal of 10 pounds instead of all 50. Then give yourself a reasonable amount of time to get there, and outline the steps each week you would need to do to achieve that 50 pound weight loss.

Once you see you can lose 5 to 10 pounds, you will be motivated to continue – we all need that positive feedback to keep going! You also need to have strategies in place to handle your missteps along the way. Be forgiving, but also be dedicated to seeing your goal through to completion.

Set reasonable goals for yourself and write them down on a piece of paper or put them in notes or a word document on your phone, tablet, computer or somewhere where you can see them every day. Recite a positive message to yourself, such as, “I weigh and then state your weight goal.” You are now implanting that idea right into your conscious thoughts daily– another successful strategy for goal attainment.

Happy goal setting for the New Year! Set yourself up for success and take the first step – reasonable and attainable goals.

Examples of Goals for Beginning Weight Loss:

Big goal:
Lose 20 pounds in 4 months (1-2 pounds is reasonable per week – I gave myself a little more time and planned for the days I didn’t stick to my diet plan.)

Small goals:
1) Walk a least 10 continuous minutes per day 5 days a week building up to 30 minutes 5 days a week. (I can walk at lunch at work, walk in my neighborhood before or after work, or walk on a treadmill at the gym or home.)

2) Eat smaller portions and cut out white foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta. (I will first cut out white foods for the first 2 weeks, then start eating half of the portion I used to eat from 2 weeks on.)

3) Drink more water and cut out all sugary beverages. (I will increase my water intake by 1-2 glasses per day each week until I’ve reached 6-8 glasses of water each day; I will quit drinking sodas, juice, and sweet tea by replacing it with a unsweetened drink or more water.)


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