Many people begin the New Year by setting resolutions in hopes of becoming a better person. Dr. Abdelhadi Halawa, an associate professor of wellness and sports sciences, discusses the pros and cons of resolutions.
Q) Health and wellness often tops the list of resolutions. Why do you think that is?
A) The reasons for having health and wellness at the top of the list is because health is one of the most priceless aspects of life. As a priority, people care the most about staying healthy and enjoying longevity in good health and vitality. When people are healthy, they are more inclined to be more productive, happy and enjoy living more.
Q) People often put unrealistic goals as their resolutions. What are some attainable goals that people should strive for?
A) To be effective in successively achieving personal resolutions one must be committed to making behavioral changes through following the SMART approach to behavioral change goal setting. The letter “S” denotes Specific, which means having specific and well-defined health and wellness goals for the resolution. i.e., making a resolution to losing weight is great, but not specific enough to achieve. However, making a resolution to losing five (5) pounds is specific and well-defined to be achieved. The “M” letter denotes Measurable. The resolution’s goals should be readily measured, which means you can monitor and measure your progress in achieving your resolution’s goals quantitatively. The letter “A” denotes Attainable, which means that you need to choose the resolution’s goals that you have the willpower and means to accomplish. The “R” letter denotes Realistic, which means the resolution’s goals should be pragmatic within one’s ability to achieve. The “T” letter denotes Time-Specific, which means you should set a firm timetable for starting and ending your resolution’s plan.
Q) How long does it take to make a resolution a habit?
A) Affecting a behavior change through making a resolution is not that easy, and it depends on several variables, including the application of the SMART approach, the nature of the target behavior change; age, gender, time availability, the amount of knowledge one has about the target behavior to be changed, the level of commitment, and how deeply-rooted the desired behavior to change is. According to research, only four out of five (80%) of people who attempt to change a behavior experience some degree of lapsing, and it might take multiple attempts to change a behavior successfully. However, according to research, on average, it takes anywhere between 4-6 months before a new behavior change becomes ingrained as a habit.
Q) Are there resolutions people should avoid?
A) Yes, the resolutions that do not qualify for meeting the criteria of the SMART approach.
Q) What are some tips for people to stick to their resolutions?
A) Here are some strategies for people to stick to their resolutions:
- Choose one specific behavior at a time that you want to change.
- Evaluate the behavior you wish to change and gather relevant information.
- Establish achievable and incremental goals employing the SMART approach.
- Gradually, Monitor, assess and track your progress
- Reward yourself for making any small progress.
- When possible, avoid or anticipate barriers and temptations.
- Remind yourself why you are trying to change for your health betterment.
- Enlist the support of others and use a role model for motivation.
- Whatever you do, do not be discouraged or give up, and keep trying.
Q) Do you make any resolutions?
A) I personally do not make a New Year’s resolution, however, my resolution for maintaining health and wellness is not tied to a specific time of the year. For me, it is an ongoing lifetime resolution and lifestyle approach.