Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. It's goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

How to Make a New Year's Resolution that Sticks (Plus A Burke Fitness Center Discount)

With just a few days left in 2017, it’s time to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions. Some of the most popular? The top four New Year’s Resolutions are centered on: self-improvement (including education), weight loss, finances, and relationships, according to research done by the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (2014).

Up to 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. Of those, 75 percent are successful throughout the first week, 46 percent are successful after 6 months, and only 8 percent actually follow through to achieve their goal. People seem to become overwhelmed by the word, “resolution”—it comes with so much pressure attached: Will I get it all done? What if it takes more than a year? Should I even bother? I never follow through anyway. Instead, it’s much easier to say, “I have a few things I want to get done.”

So, should you be making a resolution this year? Yes! We all have something we’d like to do. Whether it’s to get in shape, pick up a new hobby, or be able to drive to Burke without yelling at a fellow motorist, it’s always a good thing to better yourself, chase a dream, or pursue happiness.

Let’s take some of the stress away by replacing resolutions with goals. All you will have left are those goals, and you can place any time frame you want around them. Below are five easy steps you can follow: 

  • Start by filling in the following blank:

It would be really great if I could___________________

  • Find out if you have a S.M.A.R.T goal

Specificity: Be sure your goal isn't too broad or general. Narrow it down to something specific.

Measurable: How will you know when you've accomplished the goal? Develop some criteria for measuring your progress.

Attainable: Instead of attacking everything all at once, put a plan together and figure out what steps need to be taken in order to be successful. If your goal is to meet new people, for example, you have to be willing to visit new places. 

Realistic: The goal you set for yourself should be possible—something that you can actually achieve once you make the effort to do so. Running a marathon three weeks after a knee replacement is not realistic, but walking up stairs may be.

Time-Sensitive: Establishing a deadline isn't to put pressure on you—it's to give you a sense of urgency. Saying you will lose weight someday is not enough because someday may never come. A better approach is to break big goals into smaller ones and choose a time frame for each until all are complete.

  • Plan to be successful from the beginning

Everyone likes incentives. Decide from now what your rewards will be. Every milestone should be celebrated. Try to think about incentives that align with your goal. If your goal is weight loss and/or exercise 4 days per week, having a cheat meal or dessert for every pound lost or every week you visit the gym 3-4 times may not be the best fit for your overall goal and may through you off track. Instead, you may choose to reward yourself by purchasing a new pair of running shoes or nice gym gear (shirt, pants, bag, earphones) that you have been looking at but haven’t spent the money on. These incentives may align better with your overall goal and keep you from falling off that wagon.

  • Plan for setbacks

Don’t be confused. Planning for a setback is not the same as planning for failure. It’s unrealistic to believe that you won’t have challenges along the way. The best approach is to identify ways to get on track again once you’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Having an accountability partner is a great idea. He or she will know what you’re trying to achieve and help to motivate you when you are discouraged, overwhelmed, or just don’t feel like it.

  • Do not give up

We teach children that winning isn’t always everything, and it is true. Of course we would all love to win in life and achieve every goal we set for ourselves, but sometimes what matters most is that you gave your best.

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If your goal has to do with health and wellness, consider joining the Burke Fitness Center. Along with state-of-the-art gym equipment, the Fitness Center—which is for adults over the age of 40 or those with a qualifying disability—offers group fitness classes, Tai chi, yoga, massage and personal training.

And here’s a great incentive for joining: New members who buy a 6-month membership will get 3 months free. (Conditions and restrictions apply. Offer is valid only on new memberships.)

You can learn more about the Fitness Center on Burke’s website or by calling (914) 597-2805.

-- Burke Fitness Center 

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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