It isn’t often that my New Year’s column actually runs on the 1st, so I will take advantage of the opportunity to share a thought or two about plans for the New Year. No doubt you have been thinking about something you would like to resolve to do in the coming year. Many times resolutions focus on things like weight loss, getting out of debt, or breaking a bad habit. Research shows that success in achieving these resolutions is often low. In fact, studies show that after six months, fewer than half the people who make New Year’s resolutions have stuck with them, and, after a year, that number declines to around ten percent. Today I want to encourage you to take a different approach to a change you want to make.
You have heard me talk about “Action Plans” in the past. The concept isn’t new but I think it bears repeating. First you must determine something YOU want to do. Next it needs to be something reasonable, like something you can expect to be able to accomplish in a week or a month. A true action plan is behavior specific. Losing weight is not a behavior; not eating after dinner is. An action plan answers the questions: What? How much? When? How often? The final piece of a successful action plan is to assess the confidence level that you will fulfill the contract. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 represents little confidence and 10 represents total confidence, your plan should rank at least a 7. If your confidence is below 7, then you should look again at your action plan. Ask yourself why you are not confident. What problems do you foresee? Then see if you can either solve the problems or change your plan to make yourself more confident of success.
Once you have made a plan you are happy with, write it down and post is where you will see it every day. Keep track of how you are doing and the problems you encounter. Make sure that whatever you choose to work on that you start where you are or start slowly. If you can walk only for a minute, start your walking program by walking one minute once every hour or two, not by walking a mile. If you want to lose weight set a goal based on your existing eating behaviors, such as including a fruit or vegetable at every snack or meal.
I hope by now you are thinking about forming an action plan instead of a New Year’s resolution this year. If the action plan is well written and realistic, fulfilling it is achievable. Ask family or friends to check with you on how you are doing. Having to report your progress can provide good motivation.
May 2012 bring health and happiness to each of you!
Donna Krug is the family and consumer science agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. She may be reached at (620)793-1910 or email@example.com.