Friday, December 31, 2010

The day has arrived for New Year’s Resolutions. But given the past experience that our best-laid resolutions will fade away before they even get off the ground, we often dismiss new year’s goal making as irrelevant and useless. Still. Experts say that we tend to do better with our resolutions than we give ourselves credit for, and that with a few tweaks our resolutions can become part of a valuable annual self-inventory that can have a major payoff.
“Many institutions do an end-of-the-year strategic analysis, where they take stock before going forward into the new year,” says Temple University psychologist, Frank Farley, a past president of the American Psychological Association. Likewise, this is a perfect time for us as individuals to take a “personal assessment” of ourselves and decide how things have gone in the past year by asking, How’s my relationships going? How’s my work life going? How’s my health?” he says, In this culture, we “pretty much accept that a fresh start will occur in the new year and that we can put the old behind us.” Easy for him to say. I’m not so sure we can all let go so easily.
The new year represents a tremendous opportunity for self-improvement, agrees psychology professor John Norcross of the University of Scranton. According to research by Norcross and colleagues, 75% of resolution makers will be successful in mid-January, 50% will still be sticking to it by the end of the month and 40%-45% can claim success six months out. “If you look at it as the glass being half full, that nearly 50% are making their resolutions stick for at least six months is impressive,” says Norcross, whose research examines self-change in general and new year’s resolutions in particular. And it’s even more striking, given that the typical new year’s resolutions deal with smoking, exercise, finances and similar “life-sustaining issues,”
So, now set realistic goals. In January track your progress by charting your changed behavior. February and beyond cultivate social support, get friends who can help you with your goals. The only thing we can be sure of is that time will pass and we all hope that we can survive the stress that comes with life. Our short fixes of instant gratification like smoking, eating indulgences, booze and excessive spending on things we really don’t need ruin us. We wouldn’t need a new year’s resolution if we would just look in the mirror a little longer and love yourself and care for you. Look at your reflection, it can’t be that bad, you drag it around wherever you go. Cheers!

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