February 21st, 2024

Creating a new you in a new year takes effort


By Lethbridge Herald on December 30, 2023.

A group of joggers make their way along Scenic Drive South as part of a Lethbridge College Justice Studies health and wellness class. Getting fit is just one of the resolutions commonly made - and broken - at the start of the new year. Herald File photo by Ian Martens

Theodora MacLeod – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Get in better shape.

Lose weight.

Manage finances and save money.

Improve mental health. 

Eat better. 

Quit smoking.

Be a better partner/parent/friend. 

For many, Jan. 1 doesn’t just start a new calendar year, but the start of an attempt to improve their lives. Filled with resolve and determination, steps are made in the hopes of sparking that internal revolution that will change everything– or at least what needs to be changed. 

According to statistics out of the United States, 37 per cent of people sampled make New Year’s resolutions. Of that population 23 per cent won’t make it to the end of the first week and 43 per cent will call it quits by the time February rolls around. In fact, under a mere 9 per cent of all resolutions are seen through and accomplished. 

For Transformation coach Erin Vogt with Evolving Life Coaching, New Year’s resolutions can mean an increase clientele. Though she likes to talk about habits all year. Vogt says that after the holiday season filled with excess and loosening habits, many people see the new year as a starting point. 

“What I love to tell people is, you can absolutely set New Year’s resolutions. I wouldn’t get hung up on them being something that you have to do a whole bunch at once.” 

A key factor for the limited success rate of resolutions is relying on motivation to continue the commitment.

 “Motivation is never lasting, so what you want to do is set yourself up for success,” explains Vogt.

 “And what that simply means is really getting clear on what you really want and what your ‘why’ is behind it, then giving yourself a break and recognizing there’s so many things that are going to pull you off track of that.” 

She adds that it’s about finding ways to be accountable for yourself. 

Rob Jetten, owner and developer of RTJ Wellness, also emphasizes the ‘why’ when it comes to making life changes or sticking to resolutions.

“If somebody can get a really good, a really solid, a really inspiration why they want to do (it), because if you have a strong why, it just helps carry you through those tough days, and this gets hard… the stronger the ‘why’ the better.”

 According to Jetten, no great intention will make up for a lack of ‘why’ reasoning when it comes to succeeding in any goal setting. 

Both Vogt and Jetten emphasize the importance of habits over resolutions when it comes to making improvements. 

“It’s just the tiny little compound habits that you build up over time, and resolutions can be a little bit misleading that way…” says Vogt, who explains that it’s not realistic for someone to expect to wake up on New Year’s Day and suddenly change their lives. 

When working with clients, Jetten uses a framework that helps guide them through establishing their goals, their reasoning, and the habits that need to change to find success. 

“If you can get rid of habits that are not serving you or are harmful for you, that’s often a better starting place than to add habits that would help you.” He says there’s a benefit in purging what doesn’t serve you to make space for new habits. 

Making space is also one an idea Vogt endorses. For her it comes with the concept of simplifying and detaching from the noise and demands of modernity. She endorses time away from cell phones and distraction, suggesting convenience isn’t always a good thing and people need to but firm non-negotiables into their lives such as a dedicated time to turn off the phone, a commitment to making dinner at home with the family and analysing the true motivation behind purchases. 

“Every single little choice, it leads to you having either a successful moment or it leads you to derailing yourself. And often it’s the tiny little things that are the derailers. And I’ll say the biggest one is our phones,” says Vogt. 

Though worded differently, Vogt and Jetten both explain that incorporating small acts that contribute to the overall goal to pre-existing habits increases the likelihood of success. 

For Vogt that’s adding movement throughout the day such as squats in the kitchen while preparing dinner. 

Jetten uses a similar model that is often referred to as habit stacking. He says using the phrase “After I BLANK, I will BLANK,” allows new habits to be anchored to existing daily tasks.

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