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  • Bridget Richard, LISW-S

This One Word Could Be The Key to a Successful New Years Resolution

Making a new years resolution is a time honored tradition which goes back thousands of years to the time of Babylon. During the Babylonian period the devout would make promises to their gods to return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Fast forward to today where we start the new year off hopeful and inspired to accomplish new goals and fulfill ambitions. New years resolutions are so important we have accumulated a abundance of information on how create a successful resolution and stick to it. An article from the American Psychological Association suggests these tips to make a resolution stick:

  1. Make the resolution specific and simple.

  2. Employ the help and support of others.

  3. Create a plan with measurable steps.

Yet, according to Forbes Magazine out of the 40% of Americans who make resolutions only 8% are kept each year. So with all this practice, and research why aren't we all basking in the joy of our success? I believe it is the use of one three letter word, “but”.

Now before you let your inner school boy out on this one bear with me. In Vincent Peale's book The Power of Positive Thinking he states, “Plant seeds of expectation in your mind; cultivate thoughts that anticipate achievement.” When we use a word like “but” we are automatically giving ourselves permission to fail. An article from the Cleveland Clinic reports we have an average of 60,000 thoughts a day, and 95 percent are the same thoughts repeated every day. On average, 80 percent of those habitual thoughts are negative. So how do we increase the percentage of positive thoughts and in turn increase our chances of a successful new years resolution? I suggest replacing “but” with another 3 letter word, “and”. Listen to the difference changing this one word makes.

“I want to loose weight, but I do not have time.” vs. “I want to loose weight and I will make time.”

“I want to spend more time with the family, but we are too busy.” vs “I want to spend more time with the family and we are going to have movie night every Friday.”

By changing one word in the sentence we create a feeling of determination. The sentiment changes from “I can't” to “I will”. Researcher Barbara Fredrickson refers to this as the Broaden and Build theory. In short, if you allow positive emotions to broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind you will build new skills and resources. By changing “but” to “and” you are creating a sense of purpose and positivity around your goal which makes it more likely you will achieve it.

The desire to feel a sense of accomplishment means we are ever evolving and striving to improve upon ourselves and our accomplishments. So as you are contemplating what you would like to achieve this year resolve to focus on the solutions instead of the roadblocks to your goals “and” you will positively be a success.