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Being smart about resolutions helps keep the New Year happy

Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz, director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Anxiety and Stress Disorders Program, offers tips on how to make -- and keep -- New Year's resolutions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It’s the tradition we love to hate: New Year’s resolutions. We love to make them, hate to keep them, love leaving them behind until the next New Year.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz, director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Anxiety and Stress Disorders Program, says this is a good time to make a positive change in our lives.


But you have to be SMART about it:

S    Specific resolutions are more effective: say you’ll lose 1 pound a month.
M    Measure your success; you’ve called your mother every week ... haven’t you?
A    Attaining the goal, like working five fewer hours, possible, and it’s
R    Realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure, and take them one at a time.
T    Timely goals remain in focus; within a time element you might procrastinate.

As you start down the resolution path, beware the abstinence-violation effect.

“When you set a goal for yourself, and you catch yourself sliding towards breaking the goal, folks will often say, ‘well the heck with that. I’ve already broken the resolution. I might as well just forget about it.’ One slip does not constitute failure. You can still get back on track,” Abramowitz says.

“You don’t want to look at this as a three-month goal, and then stop doing it,” says Liz Watt, a registered dietitian at UNC’s Wellness Center. The more you can stick with these healthier habits throughout the year, you’ll find that when the next year comes around, you’re in a much better place.”

And when you plan your resolution account for your social calendar. This helps you be smart about it, says Logan Rae, fitness director at UNC’s Wellness Center.

To reach Abramowitz, contact:
Dee Reid, (919) 843-6339, deereid@unc.edu, or
Clinton Colmenares, (919) 966-8757, ccolmena@unch.unc.edu

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