For many, the New Year marks change. For whatever reason, we look at January 1 as a time to try to accomplish something significant in our lives. According to US government data some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are:
- Lose weight
- Volunteer to help others
- Quit smoking
- Get a better education
- Get a better job
- Save money
- Get fit
- Eat healthy food
- Manage stress
- Manage debt
- Take a trip
No matter how great our intentions are the first couple of weeks in January (or few days if you’re like me!), we lose our motivation. It is largely estimated that only 8% of Americans succeed with their resolutions. That number is astoundingly low.
Now that I’ve been a Debbie-downer, let me tell you how we can increase our chances of succeeding. Perhaps one of the most common reasons people fail at their New Year’s Resolutions is that their goals are all wrong.
Let’s look at the health goals in the above list: lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, and eat healthy food. How much weight? What exactly is “fit” anyway? Just rewording these goals can increase chance of success. For instance, instead of saying, “My resolution is to lose weight.” you may say “I will lose 25 pounds this year.” It is much better. However, this goal is still huge. Try this one “I will lose 2.1 pounds every month.” If you were able to lose 2.1 pounds every month, that would actually be just a touch over 25 pounds. And let’s face it, 2.1 pounds is much less intimidating than 25 pounds.
Another reason one might fail at accomplishing a goal is lack of support. Social support in our endeavors helps our bodies reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and anxiety. If someone attempts a very daunting task solo, the stress of possible failure can actually cause them to fail.
Although used a lot in this piece, we at The Literacy Center, do not like the word fail. We do our best to arm our students with an arsenal of resources, knowledge, and support to help them avoid the 92% resolution failure rate.
Many times a student comes to us and says that they want to get their high school equivalency or they want to read better. We take these vague goals and make them very specific. If a student wants to read better, we ask specifically what they want to read: Green Eggs and Ham? Harry Potter? To Kill a Mockingbird? We work to improve their skills and vocabulary around a particular piece. Once one goal is accomplished, we can always set more!