EDITORIAL: Making realistic resolutions

Try starting with smaller changes for a better chance of success

When the clock strikes midnight tonight amidst cheers and countdown kisses, 2014 will come to a fanfare-filled end, and the promise of 2015 will be stretched out before us.

New Year’s resolutions are a time-honoured tradition in North America. Like a crisp new sheet of paper or a freshly covered snowy field, the blank days that lie ahead are full of potential, and it’s natural to get caught up in the excitement.

We start the year off all fired-up: Run five kilometres a day before work! Cut out sugar and lose that last 10 pounds! Finally write that sure-to-be bestseller! The momentum is incredible on that first morning of the new year.

But invariably, the excuses start to sneak in, the snooze button gets hit a few more times and you find yourself binging on leftover holiday chocolate in the wee hours with only the fridge light for company.

It is absolutely a noble urge to want to improve one’s life, but perhaps instead of making grandiose plans to wear out a new pair of sneakers by February or radically change your diet, it might be more effective – and less defeating – to introduce smaller, more gradual changes initially.

Go for a 10-minute walk on your lunch break, every day, for the first month. Make the effort to make a balanced, tasty breakfast, every day. If you’ve always wanted to write a book or learn a new language, take one small step toward that goal, every day, until it becomes a routine.

Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s hard for us to change even the most simple things, let alone to revamp our entire lifestyle.

Instead of trying to change every aspect of your life on a fundamental level (and perhaps setting yourself up to fail), maybe you decide to plan out a gradual shift in one or two areas, to start.

And when you do find yourself starting to jog on your daily walk, or craving a big bowl of steamed kale with butter and pepper or finishing your first chapter, make sure you give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.