It’s traditional to mark the beginning of the year with commitments to change, and goals to be accomplished in the next twelve months.
However, it doesn’t take long to discover at the end of the year that we came no closer to achieving those resolutions than when we made them.
Here are four useful suggestions to increase the probability that your New Year’s resolutions will stick this year.
1. Be specific. A resolution such as, “I want to lose weight this year” will probably fail. It is too vague. Be specific: your ideal weight, minus what you weigh now, is your weight-loss goal. Your resolution would then be, “I want to lose 30 pounds.”
2. Make them time specific. Don’t make resolutions that fit the “someday/maybe” category. “As soon as possible” generally means never. A deadline is a commitment. It’s easy to put off getting started, without a deadline as a self-imposed pressure point. Deadlines are also useful for breaking the resolution down into smaller steps. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds by the end of June, that works out to 5 pounds per month, or 1.25 pound per week. Setting a deadline and breaking it down to its smaller requirements makes the resolution more attainable.
3. Take small steps. Change is uncomfortable to start with. The more behaviors we try to change, the more likely we will fail. Pick a couple of things that are most important to you and focus on them. When you reach one or both goals, start a new one. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much change all at once.
4. Be realistic. We get motivated to change at the start of the year and we think we are ready for anything and everything. Be realistic: there is only so much you can accomplish within a period of time. If the doctor tells you to lose 100 pounds, don’t expect to accomplish that in six months. If you set the bar too high, you are most likely to fail and find it discouraging to get started again.
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