Each year we make resolutions. The majority of us quickly fail to keep them, beat ourselves up about it, and then try to forget that we ever made such promises to ourselves (to eat better, to lose weight, to exercise more and other goals for self-improvement). However, the following suggestions will definitely assist you in maintaining your resolutions, to create a better you and a better year. To help you keep your promises for self-improvement, try the following:
- Keep your New Year resolutions simple. It is tempting at the beginning of the year to aim for an overhaul of our entire lifestyles. However, common sense and experience tells us that this is simply a recipe for disappointment and guilt. The best approach is to focus clearly on one or two of your most important goals.
- Choose carefully and be realistic. The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make it unattainable. For instance, if my resolution is never to eat my favorite food again I’d only be setting myself up to fail. So, concentrate on those goals which have the greatest impact on your happiness, health and fulfillment (and are also realistic).
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- Create a plan. Break your goals down into manageable chunks. This is a lesson that we learn in the business world and in general goal setting. This suggestion is perhaps the most essential ingredient for success. The more planning you do now, the more likely you are to reach your goal in the end. The planning process is when you will be building up that important will power, which undoubtedly you will need for any fallbacks or missteps on your way to success. Set clear, realistic goals such as losing 5 pounds, saving $30.00 a month, or going on a run once a week. Decide exactly how, when and where you will make this happen.
- Plan a timeframe. Setting timeframes is vital for maintaining your motivation. It is the measure for success, the way you access your short-term progress towards the ultimate long-term goal. Buy a calendar or diary so you can plan your actions for the coming weeks or months. Then decide when and how often you will evaluate your process.
- Make a pros and cons list. It also may help you to make a list of pros and cons on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time and ask other friends (who will support you on your resolution) to contribute to it. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolution.
- Reward yourself. If you need immediate rewards, then ask yourself: “What are my short-term list of goodies?” For example, if you want to exercise regularly and want to spend time with your friends, getting the group together to walk regularly could give you a short-term payoff and help you meet the long-term goal. But be warned, don’t fall into the trap of putting your goal in danger – it’s too easy for a dieter to say: “I’ve been so good, I deserve a few candy bars,” a saver to imprudently treat themselves to a new expensive purchase. It’s all right to treat yourself in moderation. However, one major slip and your best laid plans may be ruined.
- You should make notes – track your progress. Make notes. We’ve already talked about having a timeline. Beyond this physical reminder of what you are aiming for in your resolution, go further and write down the details of your resolution in a notebook, remember to add your motivations. You could keep it in a scrap book and fill it with photos of your slimmer self, pictures of sporting or hobby equipment you are saving for, or even a shocking credit statement to spur you into action. If your resolution will directly benefit your partner, children, colleagues, or friends, then add their photos too – do anything to remind you of your initial motivation.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Inevitably there will be some minor slips on the road to achieving your goal. You must not let this become an excuse to give up. When it happens, you will need to draw on your reserves of self-belief and strength, so build these qualities as often as you can. Really feel proud of your past achievements and don’t become critical of yourself. People with higher self-esteem and confidence are in a much better position to succeed, so immediately forgive yourself and say: “I’m starting again now!” Keep trying. Experts say it should take 21 days of a new activity to become a habit. But if you totally run out of steam when it comes to keeping your resolution by the end of January, don’t despair. Just start over again. Recommit yourself for 24 hours. You can do anything for 24 hours. 24 hour increments will soon build on each other and, before you know it, you will be back on track.
- Receive support. Those people, who have the best chance of keeping their resolutions, have a support system. Then when they have temporarily fallen off the wagon, their support network becomes critical and crucial. So carefully choose those people around you who have shown themselves to be trustworthy and supportive friends and explain to them your plans and your resolutions. Let them know how they can help when the going gets tough.
- Put yourself in charge. Your New Year’s resolutions (and the achievements they represent) are under your control. Other people can advise and support you. However, it’s your actions which need to change in order to obtain the results that you want. Sometimes it’s scary to take responsibility for a future. But surely it’s better than the alternative.
Remember all of these suggestions may not work for you. In addition, you may think of other additional actions that may help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions. In any event, you are in a great position to consider how to improve your life this New Year. Your happiness is worth the time and effort, so get started in creating your better and brighter future.
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