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Time for resolutions

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The year comes to an end, marking the advent of a brand New Year, and new resolutions. Every year, we tend to make resolutions but we are hardly able to live up to them. Why not change things this year? Here’s how!

Write down the things that have prevented you from keeping this resolution in the past. The list should include any guilt, rebellious attitudes toward people who are telling you that you have a nasty habit and any personal feelings and emotions that tend to hold your back.

Start with the principle that one and only one resolution at a time is required. Trying to quit drinking, lose weight and stop smoking at the same time would be ridiculously aggressive. Take the one thing that is most critical to your health and well being and tackle it first.

Pick the right goals first. If your goal is to become healthier, your first life-changing resolution should be the one that makes the others easier. If you want to start jogging, you should probably make your first life-changing resolution quitting smoking or doing harmful drugs.

Clearly define your goals. “Lose weight” is an admirable goal, but it is too vague to do you any good. Try something more specific like “lose 30 pounds by the end of the year and keep it off” or “Lose two pounds a week on average.”

Break the change down into small manageable steps. Use a graph, pareto chart or other visual manifestation of the tasks you will need to accomplish to reach your goal. And be realistic about it. Fifty pounds in 50 days will land you in the hospital if you are foolish enough to starve yourself to succeed. If you have a large weight loss, think of your success as a three-stage process. In the first quarter of the new year, you will achieve one third of the loss (i.e. 20 lbs.), the second quarter will be the next 20 and by the end of September, you will achieve the total loss. Or, you can focus on the number of hours of exercise instead.

For example, if you were trying to stop smoking your first goal may be, “Switch to lights” or “Make an appointment with my doctor.” The idea is that you need to pick something that you can give a clear, “Yes, I did this.” or a “No, I didn’t do this.” reply on the deadline day.

Keep every life-changing resolution simple in order to help you stay on track. If you begin by telling yourself to cut back on smoking without taking stock of how many cigarettes you smoke per day, you are setting yourself up for failure by making your resolution too broad.

Make a list of the things you can do everyday to help you keep your life-changing resolution. In order to stop overeating, for example, your list can include chewing every bite 30 times before swallowing, making yourself wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds and keeping a daily journal of your food intake and moods regarding your eating habits.

Post a picture in your cubicle, or in your head, of the life-changing resolution and what it means to you. You can picture your improved life as a nonsmoker everyday to help you stay on track, or you can post a picture of yourself 30 pounds lighter on your refrigerator to keep you on target.

Visualize the end result. There is no big “secret” relative to the attraction theory that you can achieve what you want by focusing on it, visualizing the goal and as a result, motivating your actions to achieve it. Put pictures of yourself — at your healthiest weight — everywhere. Think about it all the time. Use motivational audiotapes to repeat the message. “I will achieve my goal.”

Set deadlines for when each step should be accomplished. This way you are committed to the goals, and they are part of your everyday life, not an abstract notion.

Tell other people and ask for their help in accomplishing your objective. Ask her/him not to tempt you if you are trying to lose weight and see if he/she will agree to work out with you at the gym 2-3 night per week if possible. You can renew an old friendship or find a new buddy to help motivate you to change your habits.

If you don’t feel like working out, or you want you eat that donut, don’t allow yourself to make those old, familiar rationalizations. As soon as you hear those excuse tapes playing in your head, shut them down and throw them out with the trash.

If you do have a moment of weakness and slip up a bit, that’s okay, you are human. Forgive yourself, and the very next day, work twice as hard on your goal, strengthening your resolve even more. Follow up at regular intervals to assess how well you are doing. If an area needs work, you will have to adjust your plan to devote more time to that area.

Have faith in yourself. You can do anything if you set your mind on that goal. Remember that it is never too late to become what you might have been.

Refuse to give yourself an out. Sticking to a major resolution is not simply a matter of willpower, it is a matter of mind over matter and strength. You can remain strong in every tempting situation as long as you allow no exceptions to your hard and fast rules regarding your resolution.