Monarch expert discusses how to manage and achieve New Year’s resolutions, mental wellness
With the start of each year, many people make New Year’s resolutions they don’t achieve. At a time of year when many face a post-holiday slump, the inability to keep resolutions may cause increased anxiety. Some people allow past failures to keep them from achieving their goals and the disappointment can be frustrating.
The inability to follow through on New Year’s resolutions is common for many Americans, according to one 2014 poll conducted by the University of Scranton psychology department. Based on the results, a good majority of people — 71 percent — hold to their annual promises for the first two weeks; but six months later, less than 50 percent of those surveyed actually upheld the resolutions.
Monarch’s Medical Director Dr. Robert McHale, M.D., M.S., FAPA and a Board Certified Psychiatrist, shares ways to best manage goals and mental balance, and how to make resolutions for 2015 that are healthy, well-rounded and, most importantly, attainable.
“The springboard for balance is going into the new year with the idea that I’ve learned something from this past year and it has changed me. I’m going to use the good and bad as a learning opportunity,” said McHale (pictured right). “It can be a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes.”
McHale stressed the importance of starting the New Year by reflecting on the past, but being careful not to see failure as a bad thing. He noted past failures are ways to learn about ourselves, which can make the coming year enjoyable and help to shape new, effective resolutions. This thought process gives insight into the goals people want to make and sets them up for success.
Another important part of making an attainable resolution is a good understanding of personal needs; people should know what makes them happy, or how to feel a sense of achievement.
“Oftentimes, New Year’s resolutions tend to be for others, but they should be personal goals instead,” McHale stressed. “You’re setting yourself up for failure if your resolution is to make someone else content or happy.”
For example, if someone has a resolution to stop smoking, but they are only doing it for a spouse, not because they actually want to quit, they’re unlikely to stick to their plan. Instead, McHale suggests making goals you want to accomplish, because there has to be a personal investment.
Once resolutions have been identified and formed through positive reflection on the past year, McHale says it’s important to implement a plan to achieve those goals. He goes by the 50 percent rule.
If you want to lose 50 pounds, McHale explained that it is important to divide the goal in half and revaluate in six months. By working hard on losing 25 pounds within that time, you can reevaluate your progress and plan at the six month mark. He noted that getting rid of the idea of yearlong resolutions helps lower expectations, and allows people to see progress on a shorter time frame.
“The best thing that leads to future success is past success,” McHale said.
Established in 1958, Monarch is a non-profit organization that provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges. The agency is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) and certified by The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as a Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA). Monarch operates The Arc of Stanly County, which is a chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States.