Five simple strategies for keeping a New Year’s resolution

Posted Jan. 04, 2012, at 8:36 a.m.
Jim Atherton | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Stop and think for a moment. Can you remember your 2011 New Year’s resolution? Were you able to see it through? If you’re anything like most Americans, chances are the answer is no. There are a number of reasons we tend to fail at sticking to our promises to lose weight, exercise more or eat better. And it’s not that the resolutions themselves are too difficult to achieve. We often go about making our resolutions poorly so we’re not poised to create real, lasting change in our daily routines. There are, however, some simple, sound strategies for rethinking your resolutions this year. Combine a number of these with a little willpower and consistency and 2012 could be your healthiest, happiest year yet.

Be Specific

It’s easy to create broad, sweeping goals for ourselves. It’s just as easy to watch those broad goals fall by the wayside. Specificity is important when it comes to crafting your resolution this year. Committing to something specific and tangible will root your resolution in reality and build benchmarks you can actually hit. So, for example, instead of resolving to eat healthier with your family this year, try committing to healthy dinner night three nights a week. With specificity your resolutions will be action-oriented.

Think Small

When it comes to pursuing your goals, hopes and dreams you’ve likely always heard to “think big.” Think again. It’s much more effective to start your new year with small, attainable goals. Think of your resolution as a marathon that can only be achieved by completing small sprints. You’ll empower yourself with attainable benchmarks and avoid the discouragement that can accompany big picture planning.

Reward Yourself

Assign your small, attainable goals specific rewards. You’ll build greater incentives into your long-term plan and reinforce continuous progress. For example, if you have a big weight loss goal and losing five pounds is your first objective, commit to buying a new top once you’ve succeeded. If you’re training for a marathon and hit your first goal distance, take the next morning off (provided this fits into your training plan). Your rewards don’t have to be monetary _ they could include “me” time, an outing with friends and family or something entirely personal.

Make it Known

Accountability is crucial if you intend to make your resolution a true lifestyle change. Oftentimes you’re better off creating accountability than simply committing something to yourself. Reach out to wellness groups within your work environment or if you don’t have one speak to human resources about creating your own. Browse online communities for powerful virtual support circles or simply call up friends and family and tell them about your resolution. When you make others aware of your goals or make those goals shared, your accountability quotient becomes a powerful tool.

Keep a Record

The simple act of journaling your progress as you go can build self-esteem and help you focus on the interpersonal benefits of your resolution. Tracking your diet habits, challenges and successes can also build a powerful record to cross-reference should you get off track. You’ll be able to identify roadblocks more easily so that you can address them head on and continue toward your inevitable success.

Finally, remember that choosing to consciously better your life is personal and profound. Commend yourself for taking the first step, be open to bumps along the way and keep your focus on the nearest, attainable goal. You can change your course at any given point and by simply prioritizing your well being you are already poised for great things ahead.

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