Santa Barbara Wellness Directory
Resolution Solution

By Dr. Allison Barriscale
Pride Wellness Columnist
Re-Printed with permission from Pride News Magazine

The New Year is a time to reflect on the last year, or years and take a close look at how we are living our lives. What is working in your life? What is not working in your life? What needs to change for you to be happier and healthier?

We all have things in our lives that are not ideal or that we are not pleased with. We all know of things that we can do for ourselves, changes we can make, that will make a profound difference for us.

In North America, 40 to 45% of adults make one or more resolutions each year.

The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:

  • past the first week: 75%
  • past 2 weeks: 71%
  • after one month: 64%
  • after 6 months: 46%

While a lot of people who make new years resolutions do break them, research shows that making resolutions is useful. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions. It can be discouraging to make a resolution, or a goal, and not attain it however to try and fail is better than to not try at all.

Why do resolutions fail or succeed? Any time we make a change in our life the best change is a change that comes from within, from our true essence, from our innate intelligence. We need to be ready to make the change and be motivated deeply from within for the change to stick. We often set our sights too high, or set unrealistic goals. We may have an all or nothing attitude and put immense pressure on ourselves. Making a huge change in our lives all at once can be challenging and often at the first sign of failure we have a tendency to just give up, rather than trying to learn from what happened.

Santa Barbara BeachA common resolution people make is to eliminate a habit such as drinking, smoking, or overeating. We need to recognize that any habit that we have is fulfilling a need and a purpose in our lives. By completely removing a habit from our lives cold turkey we are relying on our will power to get us through. Sometimes this is enough, however, the emotional and mental triggers that drove us to our habit in the first place are not resolved and it can be easy to slip back into the habit.

So how can we choose resolutions that will stick? What can we do to make our resolutions stick? Here are some things that have worked for me:

1. In choosing a resolution you need to find a change you can make in your life that will require a minimal amount of effort and give the biggest results. Listen to your body, your emotions, and how you are feeling about the change; choose something that feels easy and exciting to you.

2. Set realistic goals for yourself. New Years is not the only time of year to make a change in your life. If you have a big goal for yourself, lay out a plan over the next month or months to ease yourself into the change slowly.

3. Create a picture of what your life will look like once you have achieved your goal. Write out a map of the changes you will see in every area of your life from family life, to work, to health, to your spirituality, to your energy levels. Read this document 2 times a day until your resolution has completely stuck. Notice how good it feels in your body as you read it.

4. Be gentle with yourself. If you set a goal or resolution and do not stick to it, it is not too late to start over again. Maybe you set your sights too high and you need to re-evaluate. Analyze the circumstances that led to you slipping and see what you can do to change things.

5. Seek support. Some people are afraid to share their resolutions with others for fear of failure. Declaring your resolution to others will help you stick to it yourself and will give others a chance to help you. Send me an email of your resolution and I will check in with you later. Joining a support group that meets regularly can help immensely.

6. Avoid triggers. Think about your actions as you go through your day. Ask yourself if your current decision is placing you closer to or further from the decision to engage in the habit you are trying to break.

7. Take up new passions.Giving up a bad habit can be a perfect time to take up a good one. Perhaps it's time to learn how to play golf, or how to cook Thai food or play the piano. If your habit has served as a primary method of pleasure, you will need to develop new ones, or rekindle old ones. Otherwise your life will feel like it is lacking something.

You can do it! Believe in yourself. If you fall you can always get back up. Making a change can be easy or it can be hard, you get to decide.

Dr. Allison Barriscale, Chiropractor

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