January 2007

New Year's Resolutions - Five Tips For Keeping Yours

Author: Teresa Fitzgibbons

The last notes of “Auld Lang Syne” have drifted away, and the final toast has been offered and cheered. Though the holiday season and parties have ended, perhaps the pounds—or some other pesky reminder of 2006—remain. Now that the New Year is officially here, maybe it’s time to say goodbye to some bad habits and hello to a happier and healthier you.

Every January, millions of Americans travel down a well-trodden path and make New Year’s resolutions. While it’s true that many of these resolutions fall as flat as the uncorked champagne left out after the party, studies have shown that quite a few people successfully turn their resolve into part of their daily lives. Are you ready to do the same in 2007?

Get practical
First, limit the number of New Year’s resolutions you make. If you vow to begin exercising, find a new job, and spend more time with your in-laws, you’ll be spreading yourself too thin. Chances are you won’t accomplish any of them.

Choose a goal that’s attainable. You’re better off to resolve to begin getting a little exercise each day instead of challenging yourself to run a mile in record time. It’s a good idea to break goals down into smaller, more manageable tasks. If you need to lose 40 pounds, maybe your resolution should be to lose three pounds a month in 2007.

“I will never drink caffeine again” is a resolution that’s sure to fail. Avoid absolutes. You may also want to avoid resolutions that have failed in the past; if you do decide to challenge yourself with one of these again, alter the resolution.

Don’t expect results overnight. You can’t know in advance how long it will take to achieve your goals. Imposing a time limit and expecting results may be self-defeating. Just promise to work at it every day.

Get prepared
What will you need to make your 2007 resolution a reality? Whatever the need, be sure to have it before your planned start date. If you’re resolution includes exercise, get your gym membership or plot your walking course out ahead of time. If your resolution requires time or an alteration to your regular routine, make sure you’ve determined how you’ll accommodate it.

As long as you’re looking ahead, think about the roadblocks that are sure to be ahead. Have a plan for what you’ll do when faced with stress and temptation. Don’t wait until you’ve had a bad day at work to figure out how to cope without the cigarette or until you’re out for dinner to determine how to stick to your diet.

Don’t forget to plan rewards as well. We all need something to look forward to. Reward yourself when you reach specific milestones towards your resolution. Just make sure you select rewards that reinforce your goal and don’t compromise it. Purchase a new outfit when you’ve lost ten pounds—don’t go off your diet for the day.

Get organized
Put your resolution plan into action by putting it into writing. If your resolution requires you to dedicate time each day to something, put that time on your calendar and treat it the same way you do any other appointment or commitment. Planning meals ahead of time, creating a weekly budget, writing a fitness log, and other such routines are invaluable when you’re trying to break old, bad habits as is sticking to a daily schedule, especially in the early days.

Get support
Don’t try to go it alone! The support of family and friends is invaluable; however, someone nagging or critiquing you isn’t—it’s irritating and can upset relationships. Set limits with family and friends, and ask them to help you think positively. Research has shown that assistance from fitness professionals greatly increases success rates among people striving to get into better shape. The same is true for people who rely on counselors and other support groups when making life-altering changes.

Get serious
It’s easy to take a New Year’s resolution lightly, but maybe it shouldn’t be. After all, most resolutions people make deal with improving their physical health, personal relationships, or financial stability. These are pretty serious issues.

Don’t make your resolution based upon what’s bugging you on a particular day. If you’re really committed to change, you’ll need to expend time and effort. A little thought ahead of time can prevent a sense of failure later. Remember, a New Year’s resolution can be made at anytime of the year. Make it when you’re ready.

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