By Debra B. Johnson, Executive Director, St. Clair County Community Mental Health
More than 45% of Americans will make a New Year’s Resolution this year but only about 10% are successful in achieving their resolutions. Why, when so many of us know we need to change, want to change, and try to change, do we fail to do so? How can we increase our odds of achieving our New Year’s Resolutions?
Most resolutions involve changing a habit, and change is hard. Bad habits take years to develop and it will take time and effort to undo. One study showed that it can take anywhere from 21 to 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. So keep at it, and your new habit will become easier as time goes on. Every step you make is a step in the right direction, starting with the decision to make a resolution in the first place.
At times, you may feel like you’re taking more steps backwards than forward. Make sure you remember to forgive yourself when you fail – because you probably will at some point during your journey. All meaningful long-term goals come with the occasional failure. Don’t allow a temporary set-back to be an excuse to give up on your overall resolution. If you fall short of your goals, ask yourself what kept you from achieving them and then try to make corrections. Make a plan with small goals you can meet along the way, and celebrate these accomplishments. Take each step one at a time, and focus on the process rather than the end goal. They are all steps in the right direction. Remember, every day is another opportunity to change your life.
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike before you begin. Start right now. If your resolution is to improve your emotional health, for example, buy a journal or self-help book to guide you through the process. If you want to lose weight, stock your refrigerator with healthy foods so it’s easier to make the right choices when hunger strikes. If you want to quit smoking, go for a walk instead of taking that next smoke break.
Through it all, it’s important to have fun and laugh at yourself when you slip up. Maintaining a positive attitude is key to being successful. Real desire to make a change comes from within. We all have the strength inside of ourselves to achieve remarkable things if we work hard and maintain a positive attitude. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
There is no law that resolutions can only be made at the start of the New Year. Making resolutions and improving ourselves should be a yearlong process. So instead of a long list of New Year’s resolutions this year, start with just one positive change. As the year progresses and you are successful with your first resolution, begin adding new goals one at a time. As you work towards achieving your dreams, keep reminding yourself of the words of Lao Tzo, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
About St. Clair County Community Mental Health
St. Clair County Community Mental Health provides public services and supports to adults with mental illnesses, children with serious emotional disturbances, individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and persons with co-occurring substance use disorders.
For more information, crisis intervention or to find out if you qualify for public services, please call the Access Center at 1-888-225-4447. Support is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week. General information is also available at the St. Clair County Community Mental Health website, www.scccmh.org or on the Agency’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SCCCMH. ●