We are early in 2012, so our New Year’s resolutions must still be resolute, right? Are you standing strong? Resolutions are our time-honored tradition to try and do something no less than life-changing in the coming year. But according to a survey conducted by time management experts at FranklinCovey, a full 35 percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken before the end of January, and only 23 percent are kept for the year. Nearly 40 percent of those polled said that having too many other things to do was the reason they couldn’t maintain their resolutions.
Expert Stephen Covey, best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests setting just one New Year’s goal, and asking yourself, ‘What one thing could I change that would significantly increase my happiness?’ He advises to be aware of your motivation and make sure it aligns with what is most important to you. You must have the passion and discipline to keep on track when things get difficult, especially when there are other things distracting you.
One of the tips from Stephan Covey and Julie Morgenstern, professional organizer and time-managment expert, is to “think of your resolutions as goals.” They say to make sure your goals include specific measurements or milestones and clear deadlines to be able to stick to it and succeed. Writing down your goals helps to clarify and concretize your intention which can help you monitor your progress.
The most recent FranklinCovey survey polled over 1000 adults in the U.S. and found that the top three resolutions for 2012 were: (1) become more physically fit; (2) improve financial condition; and (3) improve health. New to the top 10 resolutions for 2012 and coming in at number six was to “change overall attitude: be more positive.”
“[Positivity] consists of the whole range of positive emotions – from appreciation to love, from amusement to joy, from hope to gratitude, and then some. The term is purposely broad. It includes the positive meanings and optimistic attitudes that trigger positive emotions as well as the open minds, tender hearts, relaxed limbs, and soft faces they usher in. It even includes the long-term impact that positive emotions have on your character, relationships, communities, and environment,” according to Barbara Fredrickson, author of the book Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive.
Speaking of being positive… Dr. Arthur Markman at the University of Texas, suggests that instead of coming up with “negative” New Year’s resolutions that focus on behaviors to stop, try to come up with “positive” resolutions. For example, if you want to lose weight, focusing on reducing the amount you eat may in fact make it harder to eat less. Research suggests that people who are actively trying to diet become “restrained eaters,” constantly thinking about their diet and restricting their food intake. The more you think about eating less the more the thoughts, or “concepts” related to food stay active in your brain. Dr. Markman writes in his blog that when a concept is active, it is easier for people to give in to things related to that concept. So, instead, resolve to start eating differently. Cut out high-fat foods and replace them with a serving of low-fat yogurt.
Positive thinking is healthy thinking!