The Art of Resolutions: Things to Avoid, Things to Strive for, and Things to Do as a Family

Every year millions of people from across the world make resolutions for the new year. Statistically a great many fail but others succeed. What separates those who give up from those that persevere? Sometimes it can be really small seemingly inconsequential things and other times it is just knowing the dos and don’ts in planning them out from start to finish. This blog will look at pitfalls to avoid, advice for success, and why tackling them as a family versus individually could be the best plan of action. Information in this blog comes from Avoid These Common New Year’s Resolution Pitfalls, Don’t Make These Doomed ‘Health’ Resolutions (and What to Strive for Instead), and Family Health: Resolutions and practices that can benefit everyone from children to grandparents.

Things to Avoid

Many people have an all or nothing mentality which could make even the best of resolutions fail. Learning how to properly make achievable goals is the key to success. The following four examples are things to avoid when making any sort of plans for a better tomorrow. (From the article entitled, Avoid These Common New Year’s Resolution Pitfalls)

Don’t expect miracles

There’s nothing magical about Jan. 1. Sure, the end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on your personal situation and how you might improve it, but that doesn’t mean you can (or should) expect New Year’s resolutions to overhaul your life.

Extreme goals—rapid, unsustainable weight loss; starting a million-dollar company; doing a DIY gut renovation on your entire house when you’ve never held a hammer—aren’t just wishful thinking, they’re also potentially dangerous. Because they’re such tall orders, you’re unlikely to make much, if any, progress, which only fuels feelings of shame and guilt. What’s worse: Any progress you do make will come at the cost of your physical, emotional, and/or financial well-being.

Don’t overcommit

Another great way to fail at New Year’s resolutions is to set way too many of them. A long list of goals can be totally overwhelming, which pulls your focus and makes it harder to actually achieve what you set out to do. If you truly want to make some life changes, keep the scope manageable. For most people, that means sticking to two or three resolutions at the absolute most.

Don’t set up future conflicts

Resolution overload isn’t just a matter of taking on more than you can reasonably handle. It can also look like setting an appropriate number of goals that directly conflict with each other. For example, making 2022 the year you finally build a home gym is a great goal—as long as you don’t also make it the year you cut down on hobby spending. Before deciding on a resolution action plan, do a quick sanity check to make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot.

Do keep it simple and specific

The best way to keep your resolutions realistic and plausible is to be as specific as possible. Rather than simply saying you want to “get healthy” or “go green” or “focus on your relationships,” define what those goals actually mean to you.

In practice, this means asking yourself pointed questions: Is “getting healthy” code for “changing your diet?” If so, what kind of changes do you want to make, and why? What does “going green” look like in terms of daily behaviors? What relationships do you want to “focus on,” and how? Whatever your answers may be, use them to lay out specific, concrete criteria for meeting your goals. This way, you’ll know exactly what it takes to stay on track—and when all your hard work has finally paid off.

Things to Strive For

Now that we have looked at things to avoid let us take a look at some ways which can enable you to succeed instead.  Suggestions in this section come from the article entitled, Don’t Make These Doomed ‘Health’ Resolutions (and What to Strive for Instead).

Looking to lose weight? Consider what will make you healthier even if you don’t lose weight. Exercising 150 minutes per week? Eating more fiber, veggies, and protein? You can do those things alongside weight loss goals, or even instead of them. That way you’ll be supporting your health whether you end up losing your goal weight or not.

Want to incorporate more exercise into your life? Is there an exercise you have actually enjoyed in the past? Maybe you could find a way to do it, or to find something similar. Join a dance class, for example, or take up hiking. Or if you really don’t know what you want, try something different each month of the year and see what sticks.

Just rehashing the same old resolutions you yearn to accomplish year after year? What can you learn from your previous attempts? Maybe your resolution required perfection; this time, set some more realistic goals (like “meditate every week” instead of “meditate every day”). Or maybe your resolution was too vague. If so, take it piece-by-piece and make a plan, not a wish.

Things to Do as a Family

Doing things as a family helps everyone stay on the same page and offer encouragement along the way. What sorts of things work best when done as a group? The following are examples provided from the article entitled, Family health: Resolutions and practices that can benefit everyone from children to grandparents.

Exercise regularly

Government research shows that exercise benefits all people: young children to seniors, pregnant women or those in post-delivery, people with chronic conditions or a disability, and those trying to reduce the risk of chronic disease. Set a doable exercise goal and stick with it to gain the heart, muscle and mind benefits that it brings.

Eat healthfully

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that poor diet can contribute to obesity, heart disease and some cancers. To address this:

  • Limit added sugars, saturated fat, sodium, and alcoholic beverages.
  • Bake or broil, rather than fry.
  • Think variety. The 2020–2025 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages a varied diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. Oils can be from vegetables or other foods such as seafood and nuts.
  • Consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Unplug

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry states that too much screen time may lead to problems with sleep, weight, poor self-image and lower school grades, so spend quality time with your family—unplugged—and foster use of games and activities that encourage exercise, creativity and enrichment.

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