New Year’s Resolutions

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.
Benjamin Franklin
1706 – 1790

A few days from now, we’ll celebrate the start of a New Year, and many of us will resolve to improve our lives. Typically, resolutions involve losing weight, taking better care of our health and eliminating bad habits.

Unfortunately, by the end of January, most of us will have given up on our resolutions.

I think the idea of making resolutions is great; we just need to do a better job of keeping them. So here are some tips to improve the odds of keeping your promises to yourself.

The first mistake most people make is in setting goals that are too difficult to reach, or framing the goal in a way that makes it sound daunting. Instead of resolving to lose a certain amount of weight overall, you could resolve to lose a small amount each week or each month. This way, you’re more likely to feel encouraged by your progress (as opposed to feeling discouraged by the amount of work left to do).

The next mistake is relying on sheer willpower rather than having a specific, well-researched plan. Very few people have enough self-control to dramatically change their lives based on willpower alone. If you’re interested in losing weight, one thing you must do is to learn about healthy eating habits. Most people make eating choices based on their intuition, a method that’s frequently ineffective. And the marketing claims on food packaging are designed to make you think certain foods are good for you when that may not be the case. A good book on healthy eating such as Eat Your Way To Happiness can provide the information to make better choices and arm you with specific steps to take in order to improve your diet.

Another thing you should do is change your attitude about the resolutions you wish to keep. Most of the time, we view these changes as things we need to do. We believe that, in order to keep our resolutions, we must deprive ourselves, so we consider the process of achieving our goals as negative and unpleasant. When you operate from that mindset, it’s almost impossible to maintain the desired behavior. You’ll have a much easier time if you shift your way of thinking to a positive view: that you’re treating yourself to better food, gaining more energy to do things you enjoy, and adding years to your life.

My last suggestion is to be honest and be accountable. It’s fairly easy to keep our word to others. It’s very difficult to keep promises we make to ourselves. You must be honest about what you want and why it’s important to you. Being accountable means giving up blame and excuses. You can no longer blame anyone for your failure to keep your resolutions. You can either have results or you can have excuses. If you want to keep your resolutions, you must give up the excuses.

You certainly can achieve your resolutions. Set small incremental steps rather than large, difficult to achieve goals. Learn the benefits of achieving your goals. Have a compelling reason why you want to meet your goals and review those reasons each and every day.

Take small steps each day toward your resolutions and reward yourself when you achieve small victories. Make this year different. You deserve it.

New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
Mark Twain
1835 – 1910

Copyright © 2009 John Chancellor

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