Rephrase your New Year’s resolutions to keep them

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NEW YEAR’s resolutions fall to the wayside around this time. To avoid being a statistic on Quitter’s Day, one must reformulate their resolutions into specific, measurable, and approach-oriented statements, experts say.  

Quitter’s Day, said to be the day when most people quit on their New Year’s resolution, falls on the second week of January. Strava, a social network for athletes, studied 800 million user-logged activities in 2019 and deduced that the second Friday of January was the day motivations begin to decline for those who made resolutions at the start of the year.  

“In order for us to be able to keep our resolve in doing our New Year’s resolutions, it would be helpful to just think of one goal that will be doable and keep it simple. We also need to come up with specific action steps that will help us achieve our goal,” said Myrlinda Rose A. Ngo, a psychologist and counselor at the Well-Being Center of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.  

Those who want to lose weight, Ms. Ngo said in a Jan. 11 e-mail, can phrase their goal as “I am going to lose three kilos and maintain a weight of 45 kilos.” They can further break this goal down into action steps:  

I am sleeping every day at 10 p.m. so I can have at least six to seven hours of sleep.  
I am not eating any junk foods but I am allowing myself to eat a small piece of my favorite chocolate once a week.  
I am exercising or doing Fitness Walk at least 30 minutes to an hour every Monday, Friday, and Sunday at 6 a.m.  
I am lessening my intake of processed food such as canned goods and noodles but I will eat two pieces of hotdog (or any comfort food) twice a month.  

“If we are able to do our action steps for 21 days without skipping a beat, then our goal becomes a habit which leads to personal growth,” Ms. Ngo added.  

Rephrasing one’s goals to make it approach- instead of avoidance-oriented (i.e., “I will start to…” instead of “I will quit…”) ups the chance of these goals being reached, said Per Carlbring, a psychologist at Stockholm University in Sweden.  

Mr. Carlbring co-authored a study, published December 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE, that found that 58.9% of those with approach-oriented goals considered themselves successful a year after making their resolutions, compared with 47.1% of those with avoidance-oriented ones.  

In a Jan. 13 e-mail, Cat C. Triviño, co-founder and speaker of MindNation, a Singapore-based well-being company with a mental health app, said that “it’s okay to revisit old resolutions — but rephrasing them to be more relevant and realistic excites and encourages us to keep with these goals.”  

“You can work with a psychologist or a wellbeing coach to help you craft better resolutions, too!” she added.  

Most resolutions involve either diet or exercise, and people tend to make the same resolutions year after year.  

Seventy-four percent of Filipinos said they will change to better themselves in the new year, per a December 2022 survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS). Health (31%) is the most common focus of personal betterment in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, added SWS. — Patricia B. Mirasol