Expert offers tips for those failing resolutions

PARKERSBURG – Five weeks ago many people made promises to change their lives with their annual New Year’s Resolution, but now they find it’s not working.

A number of reasons can account for failure and it does not mean it’s time to give up.

A right way exists to make resolutions and start over after a failure, said Osric Malone-Prioleau, clinical director at the Counseling and Wellness Center in Parkersburg.

“New Years’ Resolutions have been around since Babylonian times, through the Romans, to the Middle Ages to today,” Malone-Prioleau said. “The history of wanting change is tremendous.”

The number of people who keep them is about 28 percent and about 46 percent never start working toward the goal, Malone-Prioleau said.

“Then you have others, 22 percent, who only keep it for only a week,” he said.

Change takes time, Malone-Prioleau said.

“Change does not come automatically,” he said. “I tell people I’ve changed many times and I’ve failed many times. You have to be smart about it.”

S.M.A.R.T. stands for keep goals simple, measurable, attainable, realistic in a realistic time frame, Malone-Prioleau said .

“Most people don’t realize they should shoot for short goals of two weeks to one month to constantly keep it in their minds,” he said. “When they choose a resolution, they sometimes shot for the starts meaning they want a huge overall change that requires several moderate to mild changes.”

Instead of being discouraged at a failure, just start over and recommit to doing the best you can the next day, he said.

“The second thing I tell people is don’t try to change everything at one time,” he said. “I have clients who say their resolution is to drop five pounds. I look at their medication and each one has weight gain involved so I tell them we’ll aim for being stable for a month or two or three and then look at changing the medication to where there will be less weight gain or change to one that might help with weight loss.

“We only do one change at a time.”

Malone-Prioleau said obstacles are normal and they should be anticipated. Another help is to have social support, he said.

“If you’re going to try quitting smoking tell people ‘I’m going to try to quit smoking so don’t smoke around me’ if you’re in a house full of smokers. Tell them to not entice you and to hide things like cigarettes and ash trays.”

If quitting smoking is your resolution and you find that cigarette in your hand, he said it is important to find out why it’s in your hands.

“Could it be stress, could it be you happened to go into a tobacco store and didn’t mean to,” he said. “Realize it may part of a habit and realize habits are hard to break and takes constant reminders to break them.”

To be successful in making the changes he said it is important to see how far you’ve come and then look at obligations and see that with the change you are meeting the obligations. Also look at the history behind where you’ve come from that makes you want to change.

“Not only look at where you have come from but this is the history you’ve come from that allowed to do it in the first place,” he said. “What ever it may be, look at your history and say you are making that change purposely and feel good about it.”

Little by little there will be changes and it is important to track them, he said.

“That will keep you on the track to change,” he said. “Look at the change you’ve done and see, first, how realistic it was and now does it pertain to you. Evaluate where you’ve been and if you need to stop or go further.”