Put down the cigarettes, do some push-ups and whatever you do, don't listen to yourself.
Jumping on the bandwagon helps people set New Year's resolutions for themselves, but days later, the whining 3-year-old in their heads is the cause of their demise, psychologist Pauline Wallin said.
"At the beginning of your New Year's resolutions, you're not craving much [of what you're giving up] because you're sick of it," said Wallin, a member of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association. "Days later, you're getting tired of your resolution."
That's when people's "inner brat," as Wallin calls it, attacks.
"It doesn't want to be exerted. It's whining in the background, and you give in," said Wallin, who is based in Camp Hill. "It's the kind of self-talk that will convince yourself you're not worth it."
But discomfort is good, she said.
"Any habit change makes you uncomfortable and takes more effort. When you're craving that cigarette, it's the natural tendency to maintain the status quo. But you're recognizing your resistance and you know it's working," Wallin said.
The Pennsylvania Psychological Association suggests making specific, realistic and attainable goals.
And whether it's repetitions of an exercise, miles to run, drawers to clean or cigarettes not to smoke, concentrate on the smaller number to keep motivated, Wallin said.
"If you have five miles to run, and you ran one mile, don't think, 'I have four more to go.' Think about the mile you ran," she said. "Then, when you have one more mile to run, concentrate on that one mile [not the four completed]. It's the smaller number that keeps people motivated."
If reducing clutter is the resolution, divide the kitchen into quarters instead of viewing it as a whole, she said.
One way to ensure a goal is met is to include family members, said Lee Ann De Reus, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Altoona.
"A family resolution serves as a means for keeping each other accountable," she said.
Some families' New Year's resolutions might include prioritizing family time, helping each other eat healthier or recycling.
But committing to a resolution as a family requires a consensus that may not easily be reached.
"I would include children in the decision-making and choose a goal you can accomplish or it can be demoralizing," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.