We’re a month into the New Year, and you haven’t made much headway with your resolutions. You can’t even remember all of them. Should you give up?
“Absolutely not,” declared Dr. Will Meek, a Vancouver, Washington, counseling psychologist. “This is not a defeat,” he said. “OK, things haven’t worked out so far. The question is, what happens now?”
Meek believes that our main problem in making resolutions is that they often are too big or too vague. “‘I resolve to go to the gym twice a day’ is a good example of the first one,” he explained. “How many people can set aside the time to exercise that often? ‘I resolve to eat a better diet’ is an example of the second. What does ‘a better diet’ mean, and how will you get there? Unrealistic resolutions set us up to fail, not succeed.”
This happens to everyone, he said. “We start out with big goals, and they last about four days. It gets cold, or something else comes up. We bite off more than we can chew.”
Meek recommends that you do some basic damage control. Spend some time trying to understand where you went off the rails. Were your goals unrealistic? Were they too vague? Were there too many?
“You must figure out what went wrong,” Meek said. “Make a list. Talk to a sympathetic friend. Why didn’t you launch properly? What needs fixing?”
Once you have a better idea of the barriers that slowed you down or stopped you, you can move on to the mental game. Meek offered these insights into fine-tuning your attitude:
Realize that reaching your goal is not everything. “The act of setting goals and striving to achieve them is an end in itself,” he said. “The process or journey or the striving all by itself increases our happiness and makes our lives better. This is everybody’s story.”
Failure is inevitable! “It’s part of the human condition,” he said. “You will fail in some way. We will all fail in some way. Even people who have stuck with their resolutions all through January will fail. That day will come. Something will knock us down. Life happens!”
We can still make our lives better, though, if we keep our attitude right. “Maybe you didn’t have a clear vision of the way forward,” he said. “You just try again. The real story about successful people is how they pick themselves up and get back to it.”
We get in our own way. It’s only natural to feel some guilt if you’re not making any progress, but Meek asks you to set any extraneous feelings aside and focus instead on the road ahead. “Imagine that your guilt isn’t there,” he said. “What kinds of steps can you take to get back on track?”
Meek added, “When we fail, it’s painful. It hurts to mess up. You have to acknowledge that. But you don’t have to give up.”
His final advice? “Regroup!” Meek suggests that you focus on one or two things, be as specific as possible in how to achieve them, wave aside the feelings that get in our way, and take that first step forward.
It's never too late! For some extra help regrouping, contact NPF's Patient Navigation Center. Our Patient Navigators are specially-trained to help you set and achieve measurable goals that can improve your everyday life. Whether you want to restart your 2017 resolutions or get going on some new health goals, we're here to support you.
You can sign up for a free goal-setting session, text 503-410-7766 or call 1-800-723-9166, option 1 to talk to a Patient Navigator.
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