Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • As each new year rolls around, we hear a lot about making new year’s resolutions. Personally, I quit trying to do that many years ago. It’s not that I’m opposed to making positive changes in my life; it’s just that doing so because the calendar says it’s January 1 doesn’t work for me. And from what I hear, it doesn’t seem to work for most people.

    Actually, I prefer setting goals rather than making resolutions. Goals are something we work toward gradually. Resolutions are usually in the form of overnight changes, which set us up to fail. For example, if I resolve to exercise for thirty minutes three times a week but only exercise twice the first week, I feel like I’ve failed to keep my resolution. However, if I set a goal to exercise for thirty minutes three times a week, I can begin by exercising for five minutes one time the first week and gradually increase the time and frequency until I reach my goal.

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    Being a goal-setter by nature, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned over the years about setting and reaching your goals.

    • Only set goals that are important to you. Setting a goal to reach someone else’s expectation of you seldom, if ever, works. To be successful in reaching your goal, you have to really want to make a change.
    • Use positive terminology for your goals. I read once that our brains don’t register negatives. If we say, “I will not eat sweets,” our brains hear, “I will eat sweets.” Whether there’s any scientific validity to that, I have no idea. But I have found from personal experience that positively worded goals do seem to work better.
    • Try to avoid setting hard and fast deadlines for reaching your goals, unless absolutely necessary. We’re much more likely to continue working toward our goal if we feel we’re making progress. However, if a preset deadline passes and we haven’t fully attained our goal, we’re more apt to feel like failures and give up trying.
    • Set reasonable goals. Setting a goal to get out of debt in a year is not reasonable if you’re $50,000 in debt and your household income is $30,000 a year. A better goal might be to only pay cash for purchases until you’re able to pay off your debt.
    • Write down your goals and verbally share them with someone you trust. You may think this is unnecessary, but you’d be amazed at what a difference it can make. My best friend and I used to get together once a year to take stock of our lives and set new goals. We would each write down our goals, then verbally share them with one another. To be honest, some years I never looked at or consciously thought about my goals until we got together the following year. Much to my surprise, I had usually accomplished most, if not all, of the previous year’s goals. There seems to be something about writing and verbalizing goals that sets them in our subconscious and we end up working toward them without even realizing it.

    Whether or not you decide to make new year’s resolutions, I want to wish each of you the very best for 2008 – love, joy and significantly less pain!

    Happy New Year!

Published On: December 31, 2007