Fulfilling New Year’s resolutions

By Maddie Binning

Maddie Binning is a senior at Minnehaha Academy and Editor in Chief of the Talon Newspaper. Maddie has worked on the Talon for four years and hopes to study journalism in university. When she isn't working on the paper, Maddie is both a freelance photographer and a photographer at Lifetouch Portrait Studios. She also has a passion for reading, music and traveling.

Posted: February 23, 2015

While many New Year’s resolution-makers find it difficult to meet their goals, five tips below offer ways to make short-term goals into effective lifestyle changes

“I want to get a six pack,” said senior Catherine Dustrude with a smile on her face. “I just have a desire to be fit and healthy. Getting a six pack will get me at least there.”

While Dustrude is in the majority when it comes to creating health related resolutions, she doesn’t fall into the group that has already abandoned that goal.

Now in the second month of the year, statistics from University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology suggest that nearly half of people who have made New Year’s resolutions, are now abandoning them. Nearly 75 percent of resolution-makers have infrequent or nonexistent success with resolutions. But there are ways to move toward success.

1. Set reasonable goals 

“There’s a delicate balance between being too ambitious and being too apathetic,” said social studies teacher David Hoffner. “If you set goals that you’re always going to meet, you’re not really challenging yourself. [Some] probably are too ambitious.”

Dustrude also took that into account when forming her goal for the year as she chose something “reasonable but also a stretch.” While finding this balance is a common issue for resolution-makers, the longevity of a goal also comes into play in not meeting goals.

“It’s because [people] set relatively unsustainable long term goals,” said social studies teacher Matt Ridenour. “The nature of being human is that we are fickle and lose sight or lose interest. Our opinions change. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s bad when trying to accomplish a long term goal. People just set goals that are too long term and require them to focus in a way we weren’t built to focus.”

2. Find the right environment

In addition to setting goals with too long of a timeline,Wendy Wood, a psychology and business professor at the University of Southern California, offered another explanation in her interview with The New York Times. Wood noted that “behavior is very much a product of environment.”

Therefore one of the main struggles in making life-changing transitions can be creating a suitable environment and developing the right habits. If the goal is nutrition, avoid the food court. If the goal is to be more positive, surround yourself with positive people

3. Start small and build

And while finding a balance in goal setting can be difficult, achieving even small goals builds confidence. Ridenour has made progress on his aspirations through short term goals.

“There’s actually a fair amount of research out there about goal setting as it relates to something called self efficacy,” said Ridenour, “which is our belief in ourselves [and] our belief in our own ability to accomplish something. The research on self efficacy and goal setting is about short term goal setting so I’ve focused on that.”

Ridenour has employed New Years resolutions throughout his life, sometimes for the simple goals like flossing.

Success in small goals like flossing have helped Ridenour build self efficacy which helped him to begin the process of working toward his doctorate.

“[It’s] baby steps,” said Ridenour. “It started with a class I took at Hamline in the doctorate program as an elective. My short term goal was to finish that and have success there. And I did.”

His short term goal then transitioned into a long term goal.

“Then I enrolled in a three year program,” said Ridenour, “but you take it class by class and year by year. Your goal is to finish that year or that particular class or that particular book. By the time I’m four years removed from the beginning, finishing doesn’t seem that unattainable. It seems really possible. But it’s because I parsed it out in small manageable, attainable chunks.”

Dustrude has also adopted a similar method in her goals.

“I pick something every other day or week that I can cut back on in order to achieve something else,” said Dustrude.

4. Choose goals 

with a purpose

For Dustrude, her daily goals paired with her goal for the year are also connected to her future plans to succeed in track this spring and in university next year.

“I’ll be majoring in dance and being fit for that is very important too,” said Dustrude.

As people try to better themselves, an important factor to consider is the ultimate purpose behind a goal.

“If you don’t know what the purpose of something is, you have no way to evaluate it,” said Hoffner. “It’s a really important thing to ask: do you have a purpose? What is your purpose? Do I have goals and what are those goals going to be? There’s [a] famous saying: if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

For many, the purpose is investing in themselves.

“The biggest reward is doing something for yourself,” said local Snap Fitness franchise owner Brian Barthell. “There’s nothing more empowering than saying I’m going to change the way I am. I support and encourage anything that it takes for anyone to get off their butts and want to do something to better themselves.”

5. Don’t be afraid to try

Sometimes determining the goal isn’t as difficult as taking the steps to meet it.

“Don’t be afraid,” said Barthell. “Take that risk, it’s the best risk you’re ever going to take. At the end of the day, if it’s something you can’t do, you’re only going to be where you started.”

Having the belief that you can meet your accomplishments is a large factor in doing so.

“Self-faith is huge,” said Barthell. “Anything in the entire world can be done if you put the effort towards it. Always have that belief in yourself that you can do it , because you can.”

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