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New Year's Resolutions

Why They Fail & How You Can Succeed

  “Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” — Hal Borland

The New Year is a great time for self-assessment, setting goals and taking charge of your life. But if you’re like most, making resolutions is much easier than keeping them. Rather than focusing on the idea of a new beginning, which can lead to disappointment at the first slip-up, keep in mind that self-improvement is an ongoing endeavor. Setbacks are not failures; they bring wisdom and insight for future success.

Before making a quick decision as to this year’s resolutions, create a list of goals and changes you’d like to accomplish. Then review your list, and cross off any that you don’t feel truly committed to.

Whether you resolve to spend more time with your family, quit smoking, or lose weight, you’re more likely to succeed if you feel a strong personal commitment rather than ‘I should.’

One reason people don’t keep their resolutions is that they are often made to silence the pestering of a loved one. If you decide to quit smoking just to get your husband off your back, you’re less likely to succeed. If you decide to quit smoking to feel healthier and be able to enjoy physical activity without being winded, you’re more likely to experience success.

Select one or perhaps two of the resolutions on your list that you 
feel the most strongly about. Then choose one or two you feel confident you can do with ease. These last couple can be used as positive reinforcement for the more challenging first choices.

The next step is to make a clear plan for adhering to them. Put each one in writing, and detail the steps you need to achieve them. If your resolution requires a routine or schedule such as an exercise plan, a new diet, or steps toward completing your education, create a goal chart, a detailed plan and a checklist to track your progress.

Also, post notes in strategic places, such as the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or steering wheel, to act as reminders with tips on how to overcome temptation.

Make certain your family understands the importance of your resolutions. Family support and their positive reinforcement can be very helpful. If your resolution is something your family has been nagging you about, ask for their encouragement, but explain that pressure and pestering, particularly during setbacks, could undermine your resolve. Determine how each family member can help you to achieve your goal, perhaps by taking on additional household chores, or through affirmations of your continued success.

Adjust your environment to enable success. If eating healthier is your goal, don’t fill the cupboards with junk food for other family members. Find healthier snack options for them. If you’re trying to quit smoking, avoid people, places and things that remind or tempt you, at least until you have it well under control.

Don’t go it alone. If you have a friend with a similar resolution, make a pact. Work together to create a plan, and then make a point to regularly check in with each other for encouragement, praise and support. If you resolve to get more exercise, do it together. Having a commitment and someone to do it with will go a long way in helping you to succeed.

Finally, reward yourself, not just once you’ve achieved your goal, but periodically along the way. Small, occasional rewards can be motivation enough to keep you strong when you’re ready to throw in the towel.

Remember, whatever New Year’s resolutions you choose, success awaits you if you resolve to never give up trying. 

Kimberly Blaker is a freelance lifestyle writer. 

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