Friday, May 24, 2024
Health & Happiness

New Year’s resolutions and how to stick to them

The new year seems like a good time to make some changes. That’s why we often start it with a resolution or two. But following through on promises to ourselves can be tough. 

With things like current day stressors such as working from home, remote learning, financial stress, even the change in season, there are many blockades to accomplishing our goals. Here are some helpful ideas for managing your goals, staying on track, and being successful.

First, a little history. Did you know this tradition of self-improvement started over 4,000 years ago with the Babylonians? The Babylonians believed that the gods would literally look down upon them unless they were fully committed to their personal betterment. January 1 became the start of the new year when the calendar was reformed by Julius Caesar back in 45 BC. 

The idea of self-improvement for New Year’s began with the ancients | Photo: Tom Podmore

January, in fact, is named for the two-faced Roman god Janus — one face looking back to the past, and one looking towards the future. He is also known as the god of doors, gates and transitions. Think of the new year as stepping through a door or gateway to better days ahead and making resolutions as a route to positive transitions. The gods of olden days may have wanted us to improve, but how much do we want us to improve? 

Research shows that about 45% of people make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8% keep them.

You may have heard that it takes 21 days for a behavior to become a habit, but it’s actually more like 66 days on average. That’s why the first few months of the year are often an indicator of how well you’ll do with keeping a resolution. If by March you find yourself losing interest, it’s likely that you won’t achieve your goal. I don’t say this to bring you down, but to allow you to see that resolutions are hard and you’re not alone. And there are so many options for New Year’s resolutions — from bettering our mental, physical and emotional health, to creating a more relaxed home environment, to improving our financial wellbeing, to connecting more often with family and friends. 

No matter your choice or the number of resolutions you undertake, here are some thoughts on how you can take on 2024 and be victorious in accomplishing your goals.

  • Focus: Some common resolutions are: exercise more, eat healthier, save money or lose weight. Imagine the pressure if you tried to accomplish all of these goals. Instead, pick one behavior you’d like to change and focus on that. This helps make keeping a resolution less overwhelming.
  • Simplify: Start with something simple. If your goal is to drink more water, try drinking 4 glasses a day instead of going for a gallon. You want to make your goal achievable. 
  • Specify: Some resolutions may need specific guidelines. For example, if you want to save money, select a specific amount to save. Perhaps start with $10 a week. 
  • Share: Let those close to you know what you’re trying to accomplish. They can help encourage you and keep you accountable. Say you’re trying to lose weight after 40 and you pick grilled chicken over fried chicken, it would be supportive to hear your friend say, “That’s a great choice!”
  • Don’t Worry: We’re human and we all slip up from time to time. Don’t beat yourself up if you skip a day or you don’t complete your goal. Just get back on track. Say your plan is to walk 1 mile a day and you get too busy to walk one day. Get back to it the next day. And if you feel you can do it, walk an extra mile!
  • Treat Yourself: No matter your resolution, remember to be good to yourself. If you’re trying to give up cigarettes, find a positive way to reward yourself as you cut down on smoking. Psychologists have found that when we reward ourselves for doing something, we’re much more likely to do it again. 

Last year was a rough year for everyone, LGBTQ+ folx included. Aside from the many rollbacks on laws designed to help our community, the US and many other countries have seen a rise in discrimination levels for all LGBTQ+ people, particularly trans folx. Hundreds of transgender and gender non-conforming people were killed in the last 12 months worldwide. Many in our community have faced obstacles in accessing appropriate health care, obtaining employment, and dealing with significant mental health issues, all worsened by the pandemic. With that in mind, I offer these three simple ideas — resolutions if you prefer — for 2024.

  1. Make time for yourself. Read, meditate, or just breathe. Practice positive self-care. Do things to make life happier. Spend time with good friends and family, those that lift you up, that see you and truly care. 
  2. Connect with your LGBTQ+ family of choice. Find joy in being part of it.  Join a group at your local LGBTQ+ community center. Reach out to friends who may be alone or in need this year. Spend time with folx in your LGBTQ+ community, whether in person or virtually. And if you’re able, support LGBTQ+ organizations and businesses. 
  3. Explore LGBTQ+ history and culture. Whether it’s discovering the meaning behind the Pride flag colors or learning what transgender women did at the Stonewall riots, we LGBTQ+ folx share a lush and lively they/them/she/her/he/him history. So go out there and explore! 

I hope you find these tips and ideas helpful and encouraging, no matter what resolutions you make.  Just remember, you can do it!  Here’s to a happy 2024 for one and all!

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Geoff Peckman

Geoff Peckman is a Graphic Designer and Art Director for Queery. He’s over 40 (way over), gay and uses he/him/his pronouns. His creativity crosses from innovating distinct logos and artwork to writing entertaining and informative articles for the LGBTQ community.

Geoff Peckman has 17 posts and counting. See all posts by Geoff Peckman

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