New Year’s is an exciting time, and for many it means following tradition and setting resolutions while the motivation is there. But it takes commitment to stay motivated when January turns to springtime and the holidays are a distant memory. Popular opinion polls report fewer than 10 percent of people stick to New Year’s resolutions.
What is the key to a successful New Year’s resolution? It all starts with setting a goal and making small, sustainable changes in daily habits. Researchers from University College London found that, on average, it takes people at least two months to form a new habit.
According to Katherine McMullan, MD, a primary care provider who joined UF Health in 2018 and will be part of the team at UF Health Family Medicine and Pediatrics – Nocatee when it opens this spring, the first of the year is a natural time for people to advance past the contemplation stage of change. The turning of the calendar represents an opportunity to follow through and take action toward a goal.
“When considering your resolution, it is important to think of it as a change you will incorporate into your daily routine for the rest of your life,” McMullan said. “Resolutions are often made, then broken because we view them as something to work on temporarily.”
Weight loss is often top of mind as it can help combat many chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. If you are looking to lose weight, discuss with your primary care provider what a reasonable weight loss goal looks like before implementing your resolution.
Mental health is something McMullan says is often overlooked. After the indulgences of the holiday season, most people focus their New Year’s resolutions on dietary or lifestyle modifications to get healthier. It is important to remember, however, that our resolutions can also guide our attention toward mental and emotional health.
Holly Hamilton, MD, medical director at UF Health Family Medicine – Amelia Island, underscores the importance of involving others in your progress.
“Share your progress or challenge friends on social media, for example,” Hamilton said. “It is a good way to get encouragement and stay engaged.”
Hamilton says to make your resolution a part of your routine, just like going to work and eating a meal. As you move toward your goal, take time to chart your progress on a calendar as a reminder.
Hamilton suggests making small resolutions year-round, such as walking a mile each day for 30 days. While it sounds simple, it requires commitment and time. Regardless of the challenge, be accountable to yourself for the change you want to see.
McMullan and Hamilton agree that, when it comes to resolutions, if at first you don’t succeed, try again.
“It is OK to slip up, but do not give up,” Hamilton said. “Do not make New Year’s resolutions feel like you have to wait until next year to start another one.”
McMullan says progress toward any resolution will have ups and downs. That’s completely normal.
“It is important not to get discouraged if you falter in meeting a goal. Set another time to resume and try again,” McMullan said.
To schedule an appointment with a UF Health primary care provider, visit UFJaxPrimaryCare.org or call 633.0411.
UF Health employees seeking to make a resolution for a healthier New Year can also contact Employee Wellness at email@example.com or 244.9355 for resources and support groups, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program and more.