Spring Forward into New Health and Wellness Resolutions

Remember those calendars that tick down toward the holidays as we near the end of the year? Well, we can probably use one right now that tells us how many days into the new year we’ve already gone, since January has long disappeared over a distant horizon, as have many of those great resolutions we probably made.

Millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions regarding health, wellness and other goals such as savings, travel, charity work. Maybe we wanted to lose weight, exercise more, or quit smoking. Those all are laudable goals, but like the vast majority of Americans who made such resolutions, we probably won’t complete our mission. Surveys have found that by springtime, 68% of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution have broken it. After one year, only 15% claim success.

Still, at least half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, which is why health clubs, diet programs, and smoking-cessation clinics spend so much on advertising at the end of the year; they know millions of people on Dec. 31 are going to resolve to lose weight and get fit.

But don’t despair. The secret to self-improvement is persistence, not perfection. Spring is a great opportunity to renew resolutions, or to make new ones. The chaos of the holidays are past, the weather is starting to improve, days are getting longer, and we know that, before too long, coats will be off and bodies won’t be hidden under bulky clothes anymore! And if you’re an employer, you aren’t too far into 2013 to stop, take stock, and determine how those good intentions regarding health and wellness programs in the workplace are going to evolve into action plans.

The first step, of course, is to ensure you have a plan — without a roadmap, you’re going to struggle. The Cheshire Cat prophesized, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” But contrary to that dim view, if you want to get somewhere specific, you need to know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, implement action steps — and measure as you go so you know when you arrive.

If you’re an employer, you don’t have to do the planning yourself — you have staff that would probably welcome being asked to do something where they could have a voice in the planning, execution and benefits of their energy. Our job, as leaders, is to engage people and get them to share our vision – or for us to solicit and buy into their vision, or find a compromise — and then to ensure that achievable goals and action steps are created.

That requires commitment, communication, time, measurement, and rewards. Establish a realistic timeframe, encourage people to participate, let them drive, and create incentives for rewarding them when goals are achieved. Change doesn’t have to be dramatic; it just has to be visible, ongoing and realistic. The trick is to constantly renew and loudly communicate our desire to fulfill our goals, and to keep at it, modifying strategy until we achieve them. More than half the fun, as people say, is in the effort — so lead the charge, support and recognize every step, and enthusiasm and support is bound to bubble up as surely as the days get longer every week!

###

If you’re not enjoying the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections.