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How to actually keep your New Year's resolutions

Staff Reporter

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 23:01

Provided by Richard McKinney

Provided by Richard McKinney

I did not make New Year’s resolutions this year. It’s not because I think I am perfect or that I don’t need to change. On the contrary, there is vast improvement I can make in my life. It is also not because I think it’s somehow more achievable to call it a ‘life change.’ It’s because, quite simply, they don’t work. Too often I fall off the bandwagon of dieting, exercising, being on top of schoolwork (which I’m already behind and it’s only been a week!), or whatever that New Year might have had me doing.

Statistic Brain, an online research organization, released a study which shows that only about eight percent of the U.S. population upholds their New Year’s resolutions.

So, why bother? What’s the use if it’s not going to matter?

Well, I have scavenged through the Internet to find some steps to keep your New Year’s resolution(s) not only alive in February, but throughout the year – after all, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing often.

First, decide what your goal is. Sure, we all have many things that we would like to accomplish this year. However, it is best to find that one thing that matters most. How many of us can focus on taking a full set of classes, much less four or five life-changing resolutions on top of that?

“Inventory all possible goals through brainstorming,” author of Family Skulls and speaker Luc Reid said.

By going through and looking at all the things we want to change, and then finding that one thing that matters most to us, we are more likely to attain it.

Once you find your resolution, set it as a realistic, achievable goal rather some grandiose idea. It is easier to lose 10 pounds than it is to simple say you’d like to diet and exercise more, because we can see the results working for us. Psychologist John Norcross has depicted that specificity in resolution change results in 10 times greater chance of success.

Second, decide the motivation for your resolution. For most people, simply making a resolution is not enough. There needs to be a reason, which often becomes a wedding you’re going to in March and looking good in your dress. However, this too is not an adequate motivator.

What works best is finding motivation outside of yourself. Certainly, desiring change is a great place to start, but to keep it up you need to have something to guide you.

“Americans hinge their efforts at personal change almost exclusively on themselves rather than realizing that lasting change often comes by serving and sacrificing for others,” president of Barna Group research company David Kinnaman said in a report.

The third step is pretty simple. You’ve heard it before and I’ll bet you were hoping that you wouldn’t have to hear it again. Find a buddy. Talk to people about your resolution, find someone with similar goals in your circle of friends and count on each other for encouragement.

Even if you don’t find someone with that same resolution at least ask them to encourage you and discuss your progress with them. As you discuss, you find the juice to keep going.

Lastly, stay focused.

Don’t lose sight of your goal. Don’t feel discouraged that it’s not as easy, or not as quick as you would like. Lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. If you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and remember what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it with.

Now get back on that treadmill and keep jogging. I’ll see you in the gym.

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