Resolving to succeed: New Year's goals are set ... or notWORTHINGTON — Loren and Dorothy Bauman are good representatives of the yin and yang of New Year’s resolutions.
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Loren and Dorothy Bauman are good representatives of the yin and yang of New Year’s resolutions.
“I’ve never made one, and I’m not going to,” professed Loren, a retired Worthington area farmer who may be considered a realist or a pessimist. “I’d just break it.”
But Dorothy, apparently an eternal optimist, chuckled, “I resolve to go on a diet every year, but then, ‘boom,’ I break it the next day.
“And I ate my last donut after church today.”
Neither of the Baumans acts alone. According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 percent of Americans make one or more resolutions annually — but 38 percent never set resolutions.
What’s more, a resolution related to weight is made by 38 percent of the population. Even higher is the number of people with a general self-improvement or education-related goal (47 percent); money-related goals are cited by 34 percent.
“I’ve made resolutions, but they’ve never worked before,” said Sharon Johansen, a retired Nobles County employee. “I just hope I can get my feet out of bed every morning.”
Despite Johansen’s dim view of New Year’s resolutions, she nevertheless has found a way to make a healthy habit stick; she walks for fitness five to six days each week, though she claims that did not result from an annual goal-setting procedure.
Johansen’s walking routine, and her low-key approach to it, is something Worthington Area YMCA fitness instructor Tina Nickel would applaud.
“I tell people to make small goals,” said Nickel, admitting she hears from plenty of people annually resolving to lose weight. “People will say they want to lost 20 or 25 pounds, and if they don’t accomplish that, they get discouraged and tend to quit.
“I always suggest making short-term, mini-goals with a longer term achievement in mind. If it’s weight, look at five pounds over two to three months, and divide it up over the year.”
Establishing a new routine for fitness or weight loss takes time, stressed Nickel — usually at least two weeks is the rule of thumb for getting a new routine to stick — and beginning small and slow can be a route to success.
“Rather than changing your entire diet right off the bat, just tell yourself to start out each day by eating an apple or drinking a glass of water for one week, from Sunday to Sunday,” suggested Nickel. “Then, if you achieve that, add a second glass of water right before lunch the second week.
“If you can do that, you can feel a sense of accomplishment right away and keep taking things one step at a time.”
Similarly, Nickel advises against going from being a non-exerciser to saying you will hit the gym daily beginning Jan. 2.
“If you are a beginner, maybe aim to get to the gym three days a week at first, and for only 20 to 30 minutes at a time,” Nickel said. “You don’t have to call it off if you can’t get in a whole hour, because some is better than none, and just getting in and walking for 20 minutes initially is a great way to start.”
When it comes to making resolutions to improve your financial health, John Standafer recommends a similar slow-but-steady method.
“Save more, spend less, start soon,” said Standafer, a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Worthington. “It’s a combination of things — learn to live within your means, from now until the end of your life, and don’t tell yourself you have to have a certain amount — say, $10,000 — before you start investing.
“Saving money does require some self-discipline, but for a young person, maybe it just means that you spend two Friday nights a month at home rather than going out to the bars,” Standafer continued. “A lot of people are surprised at how little it can take to get started and how easily you can learn to adjust to spending a little less.”
Adults aren’t the only ones who make and break New Year’s resolutions; kids do it, too.
“My 15-year-old niece decided last year to stop drinking pop, and we found out at Christmas she has maintained that all year long,” noted Heidi Langerud, a Worthington mother of three. “She says she drinks things like green tea, lemonade and water; I think that’s pretty good for a 15-year-old.”
Traci Valens of Spirit Lake, Iowa, would like to emulate Langerud’s niece.
“I always say I want to quit drinking pop, but then I get to my mom’s on New Year’s Day and start again,” lamented Valens. “I don’t drink a ton of it, but I like anything brown and regular — Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, all the good stuff.
“My kids don’t drink any pop, but I think I should be a better example for them,” Valens continued. “I think that if I drop the pop, I’ll lose the weight, but I’m going to wait until midnight on New Year’s Eve and dose up until then.”
Not everyone feels pressure to set a New Year’s resolution.
Emmett Bickett, a 10-year-old Worthington Middle School fifth-grader, says he has “never made one and I’m not going to.”
“Because I’m perfect,” Bickett stated boldly, with a big grin to boot.
Lacking a 10-year-old’s confidence, one might choose to try Nickel’s approach — setting “little, achievable goals, so you can celebrate more often” — rather than believing the bill of goods sold to you by “magazine people,” as Nickel terms them, with promises of “30 days to this, seven days to that.”
“Think about walking for 20 minutes over your lunch hour rather than sitting in front of the TV or sitting at your desk,” suggested Nickel. “Little things like that can make a huge difference.”
The University of Scranton research found that, while many people do fail to keep their resolutions for an entire year, those who set them at all are ten times more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
And if all else fails, incorporate some creativity or humor, as Valens proposes.
“Maybe wearing my swimsuit while eating would help me eat less,” she laughed. “That’s just a suggestion; I haven’t tried it.”