Keeping New Year’s Resolutions Is Simple as 1-2-3

By: Dr. Bernard Davidson, Family Psychologist
By: Dr. Bernard Davidson, Family Psychologist

Every new year, scores of people write down resolutions, confident that this year they will meet their goals. But all too often, a few weeks later, their lists - along with their resolve - are cast off and forgotten. However, by taking three simple steps, you can help ensure your success.

Step One: Be committed. It’s important that you think through what you want to change, and commit yourself to the long-term process it usually takes to achieve change. Then, come up with a realistic plan to help you achieve your goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, put together a schedule of weight loss, and map out an achievable diet and exercise plan. If you have friends and family who will be supportive, let them in on your plan and they can help gently reinforce your commitment. Who knows, there may even be someone you know who wants to achieve the same goal, and you can work together. Or, if necessary, don’t be afraid to seek professional help - whether that’s a trainer, nutritionist, doctor or counselor - to assist you.

Step Two: Be ready for setbacks. Let’s face it, on every road, there will be some potholes. But don’t think of every setback as a complete failure and give up your commitment. If you miss an exercise class, if you smoke one cigarette, if Aunt Marge drives you to consume an entire pint of Rocky Road ice cream, don’t dwell on that but get right back on track. We’re all human. Just expect some bumps along the way, and plan ahead of time how you will deal with them.

Maybe your plan will be to call a supportive friend and enjoy a healthy salad night while venting about Aunt Marge. Or maybe it will be to review all the reasons you really want to quit smoking and why quitting makes you happy. Whatever it is, don’t let one slip-up make you give up your entire plan.

Step Three: Keep track of your progress. Cheer yourself on toward your goal by celebrating your successes along the way and getting positive feedback from your supporters. Reward yourself appropriately, and it will encourage you to keep on going toward your goal. A good rule of thumb is to evaluate your progress every week or two weeks, but resist the urge to overmonitor yourself by critiquing yourself every day - that’s likely to end in frustration. And this isn’t a race, so there’s no need to compare yourself with anyone else. The only thing that matters is that you are accomplishing what you need to do in the fashion that’s best suited to you.

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