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How to Keep your New Years Resolutions
5,4,3,2,1 HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!! Kisses and hugs are shared and we eventually head home in high spirits with the promise of a brand new year. Our hopes are high that this will be the year we are going to change, grow, succeed, accomplish. In our minds we have goals we have been wanting to reach for several years now, this year will be different because we are more committed then ever.
Slowly, life goes back to normal. The hustle and bustle of the holidays end and we slip back into our old, comfortable routines. By February we are already losing momentum , March brings with it a little guilt for not trying harder, April is the month of excuses to assuage the guilt, and by May we have blocked those resolutions out completely.
And so it goes, year after year. But is this really so bad, I mean we are still happy, or are we? Maybe we could look at it a different way, even though we are happy, could we be happier, healthier. I suggest as human beings we all have room for improvement, isn't that what this life is about: to slowly become the best we can be. So let's break the cycle this year. I plan to make 2012 the year I KEEP my New Years Resolutions, and here is how I plan to do it.
1st: Write Them Down
We have all learned through experience that we are more likely to remember things if we take the time to write them down. Then, let's go a step further and post them some place we will see them. Perhaps a bathroom mirror would work. You don't need to share them with every guest that enters your home, but it should be some place where you will regularly be reminded to keep working on them.
This past year I made it a goal to not take life so seriously, you know, laugh more, relax more. I needed to keep things in perspective. I found a picure of my baby laughing, his laugh is contagious, I placed it on my mirror with a note reminding me to lighten up. As life happened and I felt myself sweating the small stuff that picture would come to my mind and help me to smile and keep it all in perspective. It made such a difference that my husband even commented after a few months that I was noticably less stressed and happier at the end of the day. After he pointed that out, I noticed that indeed I felt happier. Wow, who would have thought, it was working!
2nd: Be Realistic
We often dream big and have very lofty goals. There is nothing wrong with that, it is the part of the human spirit that keeps us moving forward in constant progression. However, when it comes to setting a New Years Resolution, it should be something that can reasonably be obtained in a year. Whether it is bettering your health, quitting a bad habit, obtaining a promotion, or furthering your education, make sure your goal is realistic for where you are starting from. If it isn't you will quickly lose interest. It won't take long to realize that no matter how hard you work, it just isn't going to happen. At that point, we tend to throw the whole thing out the window and get down on ourselves. This is counter productive to our purpose of bettering ourselves. So take a good look at yourself, and be really honest. Then chose a goal that will keep you motivated and is also realistically within your reach.
3rd: Make a Plan
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. It is great to say, "I want to lose 15 pounds this year." We put a picture of someone who is in shape on our fridge to remind us not to snack on those oh so tempting treats. Then we write it out on a piece of paper and tape it to our bathroom mirror. Then we continue on in our daily, fast-paced life-style. We "don't have time" to make any real changes in what we eat or how active we are. When next January roles around we wonder how we gained 5 pounds instead of losing those 15 we had planned on. Where did we go wrong?
When you make your resolutions this year, set aside time to create a solid plan for how you will accomplish them. On a fresh piece of paper write: "Lose 15 pounds this year." Then below that make several bullets of what changes you will make in your daily life to help you reach this goal. Maybe you will only eat out twice a week instead of the normal 5 to 6 times, write that down. Maybe you will join a gym and go 3-4 times a week, write it down. However you plan to do it, make sure you write it down, and make sure you have a plan.
Basically this is called setting smaller goals to help you reach a large goal. You will be even more likely to accomplish your New Years Resolution if you give yourself a deadline for these smaller goals. If you want to further your education, then plan to chose a local or online school by a specific date. Plan to speak with a counselor in your field of interest by a specific date. Plan to register and begin classes(you guessed it) by a specific date. By giving yourself smaller goals with immediate deadlines you can more plainly see what you need to be doing to keep moving along on your goal. Also, it gives us that instant gratification that our society has become addicted to. Let's face it, it feels good to cross things off our 'To Do' list, so help yourself out. Give yourself small tasks that you can do now that will move you closer to the large goal at hand.
4th: Don't Give Up
As you make your plan, stay enthusiastic and committed to the details required to accomplish your goal. Start off immediately on your path, no procrastinating, "I will start after so and so's birthday party..." If this is what you want, then go get it. As you are moving down the road toward your goal, you may find that you have a week, maybe even two, where life gets away from you and you are not sticking to the plan. That's ok. Find a moment to stop, regroup, and recommit to the plan. I would even recommend reviewing the plan, remind yourself why you want to reach this goal so badly and then pick up where you left off. You are only human, no one is perfect. However, only allow this knowledge to go so far. As I said in the beginning, it is easy to find excuses for everything and become lazy and complacent and never obtain those things that we do really want out of life. So don't beat yourself up, but don't give up completely either. Recommit, refocus, and go get 'em. You can do this!