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Making New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep

So it’s just about that time of year again when we begin to contemplate what we will promise to improve in our lives as a way of ringing in the New Year.  Yes, it’s time to decide on a New Year’s Resolution.  For many of us, we can’t even recall our previous resolutions, let alone claim to have been successful at accomplishing them.  So, how do we go about making a sincere resolution that will be lasting, achievable, meaningful and not just another empty promise?  Here is a list of the top ten ways to make sure this year your resolution becomes the springboard for many other satisfying accomplishments throughout the year:

  1. Consider first what is meaningful to you as opposed to what is meaningful to others.  For example, trying to lose weight because someone keeps telling you that you should is not going to be as motivating as trying to lose weight because you value health and fitness and want to spend more time incorporating that into your life.
  2. Set realistic expectations.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by striving for the unachievable.   Using words like “never” or “always” are unrealistic.  For example, saying you’ll never eat chocolate again?  Probably not going to happen!
  3. Develop a plan for achieving the resolution.  What are the steps you need to take to change the behavior, or begin striving for your goal?  Chart out the steps, and take it one step at a time.
  4. Set short-term and long-term goals to reach.  What is the first small goal that you need to reach in order to attain the greater goal?  One day of healthy eating? One week of working out at the gym? What about a day of remembering to be thankful for the blessings in your life?
  5. Reward yourself for the small accomplishments.  When you reach each of the short-term goals, how will you reward yourself?  Simply recognizing that you did well at practicing self-discipline is excellent motivation for the next step in your plan!
  6. Don’t give up if you mess up.  Mistakes will happen!  You’ll forget to work on your goal for a day—or a week!  But, don’t give up!  As soon as you realize your oversight, begin again working toward your resolution.  Change doesn’t happen overnight!
  7. Remember that breaking a habit (or changing a behavior) begins by simply noticing when you are not doing things the way you had hoped.  Just catching yourself (even after the fact) is an important step in the process.
  8. Put a note somewhere you will see each morning to remind yourself about the goal you are working towards.  Start the day by remembering what you are hoping to achieve that day.
  9. Tell others about your resolution.  Don’t keep it to yourself.  By telling others what you are working on, you are more likely to strive to achieve the goal.   Better yet, tell a close friend or your partner, and ask them to provide you with encouragement.
  10. Expect to succeed at reaching your goal!  Think optimistically and take your goals seriously!  You can succeed at accomplishing your New Year’s Resolution or any other goals that you set!

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Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC