New Year, New You!

It’s a New Year which means a bright new beginning, a fresh start, and a time for personal change, challenge and trying new things! New Year’s resolutions are exciting and motivating for some and a passing thought for others, but if you’re one of the tried and true try-ers, here are some tips to help you find success with your resolve!

1. State your goal in the positive. All too often we want to lose, quit and stop. While it is true that there are certain behaviors, patterns and pounds that we’d like to be rid, of, it is far more encouraging and psychologically efficient to state our hopes in positive and forward-thinking ways! Instead of “losing weight” think, “I want to become more fit and healthy.” Instead of “quitting smoking,” you can say “I’d like to make healthier choices.” It makes a huge difference in how we think about our goals! It is always easier and more rewarding to work toward something than away from it.
2. Pick Realistic Goals. One of the biggest problems in keeping a resolution is that we simply aim too high too far and too fast. Resolving to look more like a super model or martial arts star is an unrealistic resolution for anyone. Resolving to make healthier choices or be more active are more realistic goals. Setting a goal of completely changing your life, your career, your family relations, etc. is too overwhelming and broad. Keep the goals small and simple and achievable. Maybe this means you have a few small goals that will build upon each other. Remember that even a small step is progress and recognize and celebrate each achievement as part of the overall goal.
3. Keep goals specific. Stating, “I want to feel better” is a very broad and vague concept which will make it difficult to figure out exactly what success will be! Instead, choose specific actions or behaviors that you will work on (I will spend more time with friends at coffee dates, I will take a yoga class on Wednesdays, I will pay my bills within one week of receiving them, etc.) which are easier to measure and provide an actual activity to succeed at. You may need to do a little research and reflection on the “how”, but it will pay off. Be sure you know the what, where, when and why of your goals as you set them! You’ll find this tip alone will help you find success.
4. Set up a Schedule. One of the first rules of time management is “if you don’t schedule it in, it won’t happen.” No goal is attainable without deciding when you’re going to make the small changes needed to reach that goal. If you set no schedule for yourself, or — as most people do — set an unrealistic schedule, you are setting yourself up to fail. The schedule should be written down (on a calendar, smart phone, etc.), just like your goal and the steps you will take to reach each goal. If your schedule involves things which need to be done daily or weekly, set specific times of the day or specific days of the week which you will use to work on it. Then do it, and keep written track of your keeping to that schedule. If you find a part of your schedule isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. The key is to stay flexible and adopt to changes needed to be successful in your goals.
5. Don’t Be Upset by Setbacks. New Year’s Resolutions have a reputation of being difficult to keep. It may help, though, to remember that we’re all human, we all make mistakes. It does no good to get depressed or disillusioned by setbacks in trying to reach your goals. In fact, if you know ahead of time that there are going to be times in which your resolve weakens or you don’t live up to a certain step or schedule you’ve set, it can help when it does happen. It’s a part of the process and means nothing more than a temporary setback. Putting such temporary setbacks into their proper perspective can help you move beyond them and put them behind you. Remind yourself why you have decided to make this change and try try again! The weakness is not in the falling down, but in the refusing to get back up again.
6. Enlist Additional Help or Support. Some people will find need or want additional help and support from others. Whether it’s in the form of a professional, a family member, a friend, or some type of formal support group, consider enlisting someone’s help. This shows that you are not only serious about keeping the resolution, but that you realize your own strengths and limitations. Getting additional help or support in this manner is sensible way to help increase your success in maintaining your New Year’s resolutions.

And remember…
Not every New Year’s resolution needs to be life changing or dramatic. Sometimes it helps for a person to make a few fun resolutions and things that are exciting to look forward to or make you laugh. Maybe try something new, take a road trip, call up an old friend, or do something silly.

Keep these few simple tips in mind this New Year may help to increase your chances of success. Also, consider that the New Year is not only a time to make changes in your life, but also a time to be thankful for being alive and well for another year.

Good luck and Happy New Year!