HATTIESBURG, MS (RNN) - Too big to fail.
That might be true of banks and investment companies, but when it comes to New Year's resolutions, bigger is not always better.
University of Southern Mississippi sociology professor Ann Marie Kinnell says if you want your New Year's resolutions to stick, you should think "small" and "manageable." Or at least "realistic."
"(Our) culture pressures us into making unreal expectations for ourselves when coming into the new year," Kinnell said. "Unrealistic goals are set, and by doing this, it sets up a person for a big letdown."
Tips for making resolutions:
1. Gather support from everyone around you.
2. Set realistic goals.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Distance yourself from places where temptation exists.
5. Focus on the rewards, not the punishment.
6. Set a target date.
7. Develop a plan.
8. Take the first step.
If you really want to change your habits and improve your lifestyle, there are many things you can do to give yourself the best chance of success this year.
First, enlist your support network. You need support from everyone you interact with on a regular basis: friends, family and co-workers.
"If your resolution is to get in shape or lose weight," said Dave Turnbull, co-owner of Extreme Fitness, "then understand you are going to be surrounded by people at your gym or yoga class who share the same goals for support."
Kinnell joined a yoga studio a few years ago to help improve her overall health. Her yoga group relied on each other to be at each session for moral support.
The members expected to see one another twice a week for class to encourage one another because in a sense, they were a team with a common goal.
And speaking of goals, Kinnell says this time of year, there is a lot of pressure to buy the best gifts, decorate the prettiest house or cook the best meal.
And deciding to run a marathon when you've never run more than a mile might be a recipe for a quick end to your fitness plans.
Making realistic resolutions - and keeping things simple in the beginning - can improve a person's odds of sticking with their resolutions longer.
"People should keep in mind that results - no matter what the resolution - aren't going to yield results overnight or even in a week," Turnbull said.
If you really want to stick to your plans, don't hang out with the smokers at work if you're trying to stop smoking.
If you want to lose weight, don't belly up to grandma's dinner table after church every Sunday.
Identify the places or events that are likely to remind you of your bad habits or induce you to partake in the things you're trying to avoid.
"By distancing yourself from friends and family who eat unhealthy and not joining co-workers on smoke breaks, you are sending positive feedback to your brain that will tell you it's a positive experience for the next time the scenario arises," Kinnell said.
Telling your brain that the work you're doing is a reward and not a punishment goes a long way toward helping you achieve your goals.
It can help, too, to set target dates for incremental goals along the way, to make a plan to reach those milestones - and to write them down.
Don't look at your resolution as boring, time consuming, or an obligation. Instead think of how achieving your resolution will improve the quality of your life, reward your body, make relationships and friendships stronger and relieve stress.
"Just be willing to get started with the simple things," Andrew Zornes said. "First you have to walk before you can run."
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