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How To Keep Your New Years Resolution

Updated on December 28, 2011

New Years Resolutions

It’s New Years Resolution time again and people with noble intentions everywhere will soon get serious about losing weight, quitting smoking, getting fit, saving money, changing jobs, and a long list of other things once the clock strikes twelve on December 31st. Many will be back at their bad habits by the second week of January and most of the rest will fall by the wayside before March. Somewhere I read that 97% of all New Years Resolutions are broken, and given my own personal track record, I believe it. If you want to be part of the successful 3% who actually keep their New Years Resolutions, here are a few tips that you might want to keep in mind.

Keep it Simple.

Make just one resolution not a whole list. Especially if we are talking about changing an entrenched personal habit, you are better off focusing on just one thing. Take on smoking, drinking, food or exercise but not all of them at once. Trying to retool your entire lifestyle will just set you up for failure. Trust me, you absolutely cannot lose weight and quit smoking at the same time. Don’t even consider trying.

If your New Year’s Resolution is about a life situation rather than a personal habit, it is even more important to keep it simple and do advance preparation. Why? Because you have less control over the situation when your resolution is to get a new job or spend more time with your kids because other people are involved. You can control how many resumes you send out, but not how many interviews or job offers you get, so it pays to do your homework and deal with what you can control and let go of what you can’t.

Make a Plan

It helps to visualize your goal in very specific terms and to have a plan for achieving it. If your resolution is to lose weight, decide just how much weight you want to lose. Think about how you will go about doing it. It also helps to keep that specific goal realistic. Think in terms of five or ten pounds, not twenty-five or fifty or a total body makeover. Take it step by step. Focus on the process and don’t over- idealize the result. Will you follow a specific food plan, join a support group, or work with a physician or dietician? Make a plan and write it down. The mere act of writing will make the process more concrete in your mind.You might also write down all good reasons you have for wanting to lose weight and all the ways in which weight loss will make your life better. Do all this before the New Year. The added advance preparation will increase your chances of success greatly. I’ve used weight loss as an example, but the process is the same whatever the goal and it really does work.

Expect Success

Most people don’t really expect to succeed in keeping New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe that’s because so many of us have failed at keeping so many of them. Or maybe it is part of the cultural context of making them in the first place. Whatever the reason, if you expect to fail, you probably will. Setting a goal and making a step by step plan will go a long way towards helping you feel positive, committed and in control. You might also want to tell a few people who are important to you about your resolution. Making a public announcement of your intention will also increase your chances of success and the support of others can help greatly. So don’t keep your New Years resolution a secret—let the world know.

baby new year and father time
baby new year and father time

A New Kind of Resolution

Most New Year’s Resolutions have to do with self improvement and changing personal habits. In these troubled times it might be a good idea to think outside the box and consider a new kind of New Years Resolution; one that involves helping others rather than changing oneself. It is often easier to keep a commitment made to another than one made to oneself. It is also very fulfilling to feel that you have really helped on some level. This kind of resolution can be anything from volunteering at a local soup kitchen to mowing an elderly neighbor’s lawn to helping a child with homework. Stop and think, not only of yourself and your family, but of your wider circle of acquaintances and your community.You’ll find lots of opportunities.

This kind of resolution can also be time limited—and you get to set your own parameters. The beauty part is you can lend a helping hand for a day, a week, a month or any length of time you choose. In addition, you get your mind off yourself and your own troubles and if you are at all like me, you will end up feeling like you gained more than you gave when it is all over.

There is still time before we get out the silly hats and noisemakers and uncork the champagne to think about this so by all means do. Advance planning is key and almost as important as choosing a resolution that is realistic and achievable with personal effort. There is nothing, that feels as good as making a plan and then successfully carrying it out-- so Happy New Year and may your resolutions be well planned, do-able and may they also get done.


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