New Year’s resolutions are common, because we think of January as a time of renewal and fresh beginnings. Maybe we allowed ourselves to overindulge in our favorite special foods during the holidays. Perhaps we told ourselves it would be easier to get in shape and make other improvements after the stress of finals was over. Whether we set out to make physical, social, emotional or spiritual changes, meeting our goals is difficult, even for the most dedicated of us.

What are some common reasons that we don’t keep our resolutions? How can we turn around the ship instead of abandoning it?

“I don’t have enough time.” For NEOMED students, this might ring true, as the demands of medical, pharmacy or graduate school can be intense. Resolutions often fall to the side as academic demands increase. How to address this: You may not have the time that you want, but maybe you need to be flexible with your expectations. For example, you may not have an hour to work out, but maybe you can find 20 minutes. It’s better than nothing!

“I’m not getting results.” Often, when we commit to the hard work of change, we want to see immediate results. However, this is not the case in many areas of our lives. Change is often gradual. How to address this: You didn’t get the way that you are overnight, so it will take some time to change. Be sure to note any progress, no matter how small you might think it is. Try keeping a written log and review it every few months. You may be pleasantly surprised and motivated when you see how the incremental improvements have added up.

“Everyone seems to be doing better than me.” This is a big one. In the age of social media, we are constantly reminded of people making difficult changes. Often, we see more progress in others than we do in ourselves. How to address this: Remember that change in an individual journey. You can only measure your progress against your former self, not against others.

“It’s too tough.” Change is difficult for everyone. Even if we’re not happy with the way that we are, it’s easier to remain in a familiar pattern. Being different and making changes does often require hard work, and sometimes a leap of faith to believe you can succeed. How to address this: Change is difficult, so be sure to make note of your successes. Remind yourself frequently of your goals, and why you wanted to change in the first place. Reward yourself when necessary. Be kind to yourself.

No matter what your goals are, change can be difficult. Even if you’ve fallen off course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t course-correct to resume the good work that you began in January. Give yourself some credit. With hard work and perseverance, you can achieve your goals!

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