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How to set a realistic goal: 5 reasons to set your New Year's resolution NOW!

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As Thanksgiving approaches and cooler temperatures blow into Boston, we are reminded that 2011 will soon come to a close, ushering in a new year of opportunity for us to achieve our ultimate goals. What comes to mind when you think of the intersection between health, beauty, and the new year? That's right, resolutions! These are the promises we make to ourselves after a year of experience has made us stronger, wiser, and more determined to be the best possible version of ourselves.

The trick to setting a realistic goal is to plan ahead, so here are 5 reasons to get crackin' on your New Year's resolution, today!

  1. Preparation means setting yourself up to succeed. What do you want and why do you want it? Sometimes this takes time to recognize. Give this concept some thought and you'll find yourself closer to the essence of what you're trying to achieve. Your best chance of bringing positive, healthy changes into your life starts with educating yourself. Begin to ask questions like "how many calories should I eat per day if I want to lose 10 pounds and keep it off?" This works for any goal, including "what will I need to do in order to publish a work of fiction?" Remember, the biggest determinant of beauty is self-esteem, so no matter what kind of goal you resolve to achieve, achieving it will increase your confidence, thereby making you naturally better looking. ;)
  2. Creating a new habit: Let's talk psychology. Research shows that it takes a varied amount of time to create a new habit, depending on your goal and personality. It can take between 18 and 245 days to create a new habit, according to Psych Central. So even if you're resistant to change and have a lofty goal in mind, the good news is that you can still get the jump on the new year by beginning to create your new habit now. By January 1, you'll have overcome the hardest part: getting the ball rolling. Instead of resolving to start, you'll be resolving to continue, and that's a smaller feat. On that note...
  3. According to Newton, an object in motion remains in motion. But what does that mean, and how is goal-setting related to classical mechanics? Newton's laws of motion describe the relationship between the forces acting upon a body and a body's subsequent motion. So you want to be a jogger? Get off the couch. Once you set your mental determination as the guiding force to move your body, maybe you'll dust off your gym shoes, dig your favorite gym shorts from the bottom of your drawer, or even bop around the house while creating a 30 minute playlist of your favorite high-energy music. Get your body and mind moving with any task related to your ultimate goal. The results are movement and progress. Ain't nothin wrong with that!
  4. Positive self esteem begets positive behavior. Goal-setting, especially for exercise, nutrition, and weight loss must come from a position of self acceptance, not self loathing. What better idea than to have already lost 2 pounds toward your 10 pound goal by the time you slip into your swanky New Year's Eve duds? Make strides today toward feeling good in your own skin. When resolution time comes around, you'll remember how good it feels to make progress, and you'll want more of that sweet sense of success.
  5. Goals set in small increments have the best success rates. Don't shoot for summer just yet. Focus on some closer goals, so you can enjoy incremental progress. Setting your resolution now means progress by Christmas, Valentine's Day, and beyond. Give yourself a reason to look and feel good all winter long and you'll look and feel exponentially better by the time swimsuit season rears its beautiful head. Keep scrolling for some final thoughts...

Mental Health Tip: Set a goal for every month or two between now and spring to give yourself something to look forward to during dreary ol' winter. Whether it's a vacation, a spa day, or even a reservation for a night out with someone special, you'll find yourself progressively closer to your ultimate goal if you have smaller goals to reach for along the way.

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