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Making resolutions stick in the New Year and all year: 5 fresh tips

Start with the feeling, remember the why, set small milestones along the way.
Start with the feeling, remember the why, set small milestones along the way.
Photo: mt23 on Flickr

Every year, almost half of all Americans make New Year’s Resolutions – 85 percent of them relate to self-improvement and better health. Most of them fail, almost one-third of them within the first two weeks. Statistics show that only about 8 percent of these people are successful in attaining their goals. Chances are, you’ve been a statistic.

This year can be different. Follow these five simple tips to make your goals a reality:

  1. Ask WHY, and then ask again and again. When asked why they want to lose weight, most people say they want to look better or feel better. That’s not enough; to be truly successful, the question must go deeper. The goal must speak to the soul in order to motivate. WHY look better or feel better? Perhaps it’s to enjoy more active time with the kids. WHY enjoy more activity with them? Possibly because time moves fast and kids grow faster, and you want to savor every moment along the way. A-ha! That’s the real WHY. The answers will be as individual as the people giving them – the important part is to ask WHY until reaching the real root of the matter.
  2. Make a progress chart. Rather than making just one big checkmark for achieving the ultimate milestone, set out smaller markers along the path. Break a big task into smaller ones, and celebrate each achievement as it comes. This reinforcement washes your brain in feel-good chemicals, making it more likely that you’ll continue toward and eventually reach your goal.
  3. Begin with the feeling. As Danielle Laporte says, “knowing how you want to feel is the most potent form of clarity.” Start by listing how you want to feel after achieving your goal. Be specific; it’s not enough to just say “happy.” Go deeper and figure out what “happy” means to you. Is happiness made of health, peace, clarity, or freedom? Once these inner feelings are pinned down, align your outer goals and actions with them.
  4. Give 10 percent more. Picture what actions would apply just 10 percent more to your efforts. Then get busy on those actions. Ten percent isn’t much for most people or tasks, but its payoffs can be enormous.
  5. Get help. It’s a fact, at least for health-improvement resolutions: sharing about them on social media actually helps. Find what feels right for you, and keep privacy precautions in mind. Connect with experts in the online world for information and find friends for support. Ask them to be accountability partners, or at least to check on your progress periodically. It won’t take much prompting – people are naturally eager to help when it’s as easy as clicking “like” or typing “way to go!” Find various apps that facilitate health goals. Two great examples are MyFitnessPal (which includes both an exercise and a food log) and RunKeeper (which helps you calculate calorie burn and track almost any kind of workout.) Of course, look beyond the screen to the real world as well – the gym is always more fun and much tougher to shirk when you know a friend is waiting for you.

The beginning of a new year is a great time for setting new targets, especially in the areas of health and fitness, but keep in mind that it’s not the only time. Habit-changing expert Cheri Flake at The Stress Therapist for Moms in Atlanta often counsels clients that “there’s nothing magical about January 1.” You can begin any day, or any moment, to make positive changes and the five tips above will make them last.

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