By Col. Gary Cornn, 721st Mission Support Group commander
/ Published January 18, 2017
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. --
One time, I swore off “dad jokes,” like, “Two guys walked into a bar. The third guy…ducked!” Obviously, that didn’t take!
One quick Google search on “how to keep your New Year’s resolutions” returned 13 million results. “Top 50 New Year’s Resolutions,” “100 New Year’s Resolutions and How to Keep Them,” “50 New Year’s Resolutions,” “10 New Year’s Resolutions,” and on and on. My favorite? “Stop Twerking!” Seriously, that was number 7 of 100 in one of the lists. Really? Do we have a twerking epidemic on our hands?
Most of us want to lose a few a few pounds, get more fit, get out of debt or get rid of a bad habit. But why didn’t it stick? Was it a lack of willpower or was it the resolution itself? I’m no psychiatrist, but I’m very familiar with how something like a chocolate cupcake can make one quickly set aside the willpower to lose a few pounds, or how a warm bed can sometimes be more powerful than a chilly three-mile run in the morning.
Making a change requires putting your mind to it, for sure, but WebMD told me that studies show people who apply an extra measure of willpower are more than twice as likely to be successful. Little tricks like replacing the bad habit with something else, or limiting something instead of setting an absolute, such as eliminating it completely, help with willpower.
For example, squeeze a stress ball or do some pushups when you want a chocolate cupcake. Maybe let yourself have biscuits and gravy for breakfast on the last Saturday of the month instead of eliminating biscuits and gravy completely. For me, I know I can do three miles in my neighborhood at 5 a.m. in most of the local morning temperatures. I just need to apply that extra measure of willpower to get out from underneath the covers at 4:50 a.m.
It should be noted that willpower alone cannot overcome an addiction, so if your issue is more serious, then you should seek help. The various helping agencies on base can help. They include the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program, Mental Health, Family Advocacy, Chaplains among others. If you have an addiction, don’t try to do this on your own. However, if you are simply wrestling with keeping your New Year’s resolution, then this is for you.
A reason you were not successful could have been the actual resolution itself. We’ve learned along the way how to set work-related goals and achieve them, but for some reason we don’t tend to apply those lessons to our New Year’s resolutions. We learn goals should be SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. You can apply SMART to New Year’s Resolutions as well.
Specific is not, “I want to lose some weight.” Maybe it’s more like, “I want to lose 10 pounds.” However, even more success might be in the specific goal, “I’m going to reduce my portion sizes by half, and run 12 miles per week.”
Measurable goals don’t end with “…lose some weight” either. For your resolution, ask measurable questions like “how much,” “how many,” or “how often.”
Achievable resolutions are something you really can accomplish within reason. Is a normal human going to run a half-marathon every weekend? Doubtful. For many of nominal fitness, a three-mile run or walk four times per week is achievable. You need to figure out what is achievable for you. Maybe you set that goal too high the first time.
Realistic resolutions are those that are sensible and pragmatic. Just because your Fitbit can be set to 99,999 steps per day doesn’t mean that should be your daily goal. For some, 7,000 steps per day is realistic, but it may be 10,000 for others.
Time-bound. Per-day, per-week and within three months are all phrases typical of something that is time-bound.
Finally, and maybe you already know this, you don’t have to wait until Jan. 1 to make transformational changes in your life. There is nothing magical about New Year’s Day. If you find your resolution didn’t make it into the second week of January, then make it SMART, sprinkle in a little extra willpower, and in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, begin again!