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Sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions

Learn how to stick to your New Year's Resolutions and achieve your goals.

We often view the beginning of a new year as a chance to redeem ourselves; a second chance, a time to start over. We have the best intentions to be the best that we can be and then come up with New Year’s resolutions, such as losing weight, getting fit, giving up smoking and getting involved in charity work.

On January 1, the gym is full of enthusiasts, determined to achieve their goals. By the 15th, only half of these people can be spotted on the treadmills. By the 30th, most of them have given up on achieving any of their resolutions.

Wikihow.com shared some tips on how to make sure you stick to them and make your dreams a reality.

It is possible but it does take focus, planning, and determination to stick with the resolutions for the same amount of time it takes to change a habit, so that they become new ones.

Step 1: Realise that New Year’s Day is just another day and that making resolutions on this day is no different from making them on any other one. While it is a convenient time because it’s the new year and therefore feels like a new beginning, placing too much emphasis on it being a brand-new start and that your whole life is going to change, is unrealistic. Think of the occasion more as a catalyst for change and a start-off point.

Step 2: Pinpoint your most-realistic resolutions. Review the various areas in your life and think about what works and what doesn’t. Instead of picking the same old resolutions that you never seem to keep, such as losing weight, giving up smoking or winning an award, choose an area that you know needs improvement rather than a radical change. Think long term and make sure it’s something you can visualise happening. And reduce the number of resolutions you make – hone down that list of 10 to just one or two, or be prepared to approach them one after another rather than all at once.

For instance, perhaps you don’t see enough of your friends or you never call your mom back. Working on these seemingly simple things may be more rewarding in the long run.

Long-term goals such as learning a new language or controlling your temper are also fine, but they must be broken down so that you don’t have unrealistic expectations and give up too easily.

Step 3: Write down your resolutions. Once you have decided on your achievable goals, write them down. You can even set up a contract with yourself stating what you will set out to do to make it official. Writing down the resolutions creates a greater connection with your “thinking self” and your “doing self” and makes it appear more real than simply thinking about it.

Step 4: Rather than trying to have several large changes underway at once, such as trying to lose weight, quitting smoking, and increasing your exercise regime, break the changes down into smaller lots and focus on one single resolution at a time.

Your focus and energies won’t be spread too thinly this way and you can give the single resolution all of your attention. Break down each goal into smaller steps, making the first one incredibly easy.

Find routine trigger points during your day to implement your resolution.

Step 5: Be positive. For example, rather than thinking, “I can’t be bothered to go to the gym”, rather think, “I always feel so much better for going to the gym and I love that feeling”. Highlighting the benefits is far more motivating than focusing on the negatives and self-deprecation for not doing it as expected.

Step 6: Make the change a gradual one. A resolution is unlikely to be enduring if you implement it in its totality the first day. Giving up your favourite daily treats by going cold turkey, will probably cause you to endlessly think about them and finally give in. Instead, slowly wean yourself off the treats by eating less each week.

Give yourself plenty of time to make the change. At least 21 days of pursuing a new habit are needed to break the old one, and a good period of time to set a new resolution in place is approximately two months, after which time it should feel much easier.

Step 7: Get some support. Tell a friend or loved one who you trust about your resolution.

They will support you and keep you focused on your goal. And if you are wavering at all, their support will ensure you don’t give up.

Consider joining an online support group for specific resolutions such as losing weight or training for a marathon. Having people you can talk to at any time of day or night can be a great support system. In turn, be sure to encourage others as well.

Step 8: Review your progress. Break your resolution down into stages so you can track it. Making a minor adjustment could be the key to success.

Step 9: Build on your resolutions. When you’re doing well at keeping to your goals, you may discover that you feel better about other areas of your life too. Going to the gym may lead you to quit smoking too. Similarly, if you have given up something as part of your resolution, try to find a pleasant and diversionary substitute to keep your mind occupied.

Step 10: Remember to celebrate your successes. If you cut down on drinking alcohol, clearly it’s best not to reward yourself with a glass of wine. Instead, treat yourself to those shoes you’ve had your eye on, or tickets to a play you’ve been dying to see. You deserve it!

Keep going. Why stop now when you’ve come this far? Extend the timeline of your resolution and work it into your everyday routine. By next year, you’ll be more than ready to face your next challenge.

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