Five Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
I just came back from the bookstore. The front display table was brimming with an assortment of diet and self-help books. Ah, yes. It's that time of the year again. Time to make resolutions that, for the most part, won't be kept.
Those of us with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder don't tend to have trouble making New Year's Resolutions. We are generally not lacking in ambition. We're absolutely brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. And that's all the time, not just at the beginning of the year. When we have something like New Year's to focus on, we can really go overboard. We'll lose fifty pounds in three months, stop smoking cold turkey, metamorphose from someone who has trouble getting cleaning done into Martha Stewart, bring about world peace...well, you get the idea.
The trouble we often have, more than other people, is keeping those resolutions, as they're frequently too ambitious. Ambition is a wonderful thing to have when you're making a resolution, but ultimately it can trip you up when you're trying to adhere to the resolution. Here are five tips to help you nail down your resolution and achieve it.
1. Keep your goals realistic and achievable.
As I said, those of us with ADHD are sorely tempted to make overly ambitious resolutions. But that generally doesn't work. After all, we're human. Here's an example: Most diets fail, often because the goals are too ambitious and unrealistic, like losing fifty pounds in three months. Also, a diet is a short-term approach to a long-term goal. You've probably heard this already, but instead of a diet, you should just starting eating healthier in general. I have absolutely no discipline when it comes to dieting, so what I've done over the years is educate myself about portion size and hidden calories in food. This is, for me, a realistic way to lose weight. By the way, here are a couple of helpful resources for this resolution:
You can apply this realistic down-sizing to other resolutions. Instead of vowing that you'll quit smoking cold-turkey, why not resolve to cut down gradually? And that's the type of goal you want to talk to your doctor about. He or she will be glad to help.
2. Develop a plan.
Utilizing the same example, how are you going to lose weight? Are you going to eat healthier, count calories, have smaller portions, or exercise more frequently? If your goal is to be more frugal, are you going to make a budget? Or do you know where you have to cut back? I'm painfully aware that my $4.00 a day coffee fix costs $80.00 a month. When I need money short-term, I make and bring my own coffee drink. But long-term, I use Quicken financial software to keep me honest.
Set short-term goals as well as long-term goals. Remember, the short-term goals are important too, especially because achieving one can give you a lift and a renewed commitment to your goal.
3. Write it down.
This can make a difference, believe it or not, in how well you stick to your goal. By writing your plan out, you're forced to bring it into focus, in case you didn't do that in the last step, although you might have thought you did.
4. Tell other people about your goal.
This really does help to keep you honest. It's a good idea to choose someone who will ask you once in a while how you're doing, but not so often that it will tick you off.
5. Don't get discouraged by backsliding.
Hey, it happens. You can pretty much count on that. But don't use backsliding as an excuse to toss out the whole resolution. This is a process, not a one-time effort.