Realistic goals key to resolutions

Published 4:08 pm Thursday, December 31, 2009

Did you make your resolution yet?

About 308 million Americans — and more than 80,000 Suffolk residents — rung in the New Year Thursday night, but not all made resolutions. The traditional resolution, scoffed upon by novelist Mark Twain and countless others, is an old way of making new promises to yourself.

Some of the most common resolutions are focused either on physical or financial health, according to a U.S. government Web site. USA.gov lists the most popular New Year’s resolutions among Americans — lose weight, manage debt, save money, get a better job, get fit, get a better education, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, reduce stress overall, reduce stress at work, take a trip and volunteer to help others.

Some Suffolk residents interviewed recently were focusing more on internal changes.

“My resolution is to do the same thing I did last year,” said Troy Brinkley, a hairstylist at the Chop Shop in downtown Suffolk. “To treat others how I want to be treated.”

Ray Knight resolved to take care of unfinished business.

“It’s stuff I should have done in the last decade,” Knight said. “If I don’t do it now, I’ll go 20 years without doing it.”

Marsha Whitfield, a cook at the Grits and Gravy restaurant on East Washington Street, had a spiritual resolution.

“I resolve to keep my faith in the Lord and lean on Him instead of trying to do it on my own,” Whitfield said, adding she sometimes has trouble giving her problems to God.

Maurice Wilson, owner of Grits and Gravy, made a business-related resolution — shortly after claiming he doesn’t make resolutions because he always breaks them.

“My resolution is to put out the best quality food I can,” Wilson said. “I’m going to knock this city on their ear with my food.”

According to American Psychiatric Association experts, setting realistic expectations can help keep New Year’s resolutions.

“Whether it’s spending more time with family, improving money management or living a healthier life, New Year’s resolutions provide a fresh start,” said Dr. Robert Benson, a member of the APA Committee on Public Affairs. “Too often, resolutions fail. Setting achievable goals will set you on the right path.”

Benson also recommended establishing the right goals and rewarding yourself for steps taken toward the goal.

For more recommendations from the APA, visit www.psych.org.