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Reevaluating the resolution: Techniques for success

Finding it hard to stick with the New Year's resolution? Try these simple tips to stay focused and achieve that goal.

Lasting lifestyle change is hard work, and until there is a deep commitment to change and a well-thought out plan of action, it is easy to slide back into those old unhealthy habits.

The first step is to understand and to be completely honest about the current state of your affairs, this process can be tough and is sometimes even painful, and it can be hard to admit things that you are less than proud of or that you would rather ignore. It is always easier to blame someone or something else for your troubles, being honest with yourself takes effort. There is no magic formula that will give you all the answers you seek or the life you want, but conversely, there is also no reason you can’t start evaluating where you are and how to get where you want.

A good activity to try at this stage is to keep a time log, it is very helpful in being more productive and effective in general is you can analyze how you are actually spending your time verses how you perceive to spend your time. For those with a smartphone a great app that makes logging your time more efficient is the Awesome Time Logger, there is both a free version that is ad supported, but fully functional and an ad free version with some additional features. The app is available in the apple app store, for the iPhone or those on the android platform can download the app through Google play.

After you know how you really spend your time, think about your priorities and values, are you spending your time in a way that supports these priorities, or are urgent tasks all you seem to have time for and the really important things like spending quality time with the family gets pushed aside? When you define your priorities and values you can begin to make sure that the things that are a priority and not just a necessity get addressed as well. Relationships cannot flourish without some nurturing. Identifying your top priorities also allows you to better focus your energy on the things that are important rather than on things that are less important.

Clarifying Prioroties Exercise

Step one: Make a list of your priorities (examples: health, fitness, family, finances, happiness, career, learning, community service, spirituality/ faith). Next, visualize. Relax. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in your favorite place many years from now when you are in the twilight years of your life. Reflect on your life from this vantage point. What are you most grateful for? What did you accomplish? What are your most treasured experiences? What is your favorite way to spend your time? List your answers on a separate piece of paper, be as thorough as possible. This exercise may be done alone or with a partner.

Again, relax. Close your eyes and imagine you are back in your favorite place, but instead of being in the twilight of your life it is present day, and you have just learned you have a terminal cancer and have been given six months to live. What do you want to experience, accomplish, change or have, now that you have this additional information. List your answers on a separate sheet of paper. This part may also be done alone or with a partner.

Finally, compare your two sets of answers, did your priorities change? Often when threatened with a terminal illness, perspectives shift and the things that are truly important to us emerge. Save these activities for later review.

Now you have the data needed to design effective goals. But before you complete your set of goals ask yourself these important questions…Are you willing to devote a lot of time and energy to accomplish this goal? Or is it more of a dream that you hope just falls in your lap? Is it achievable? Have you been specific enough so you know when you have accomplished your goal? Have you given yourself a realistic timeline to complete this goal? Have you stated a goal or just an idea? Remember to always state your goals in a positive way, the point is not to beat yourself up but to give you a concrete objective to work towards.

These activities will help clarify whether you are focusing on things that are truly important to you that you are willing to invest time and effort in. When you set goals that you are emotionally invested in, you increase your chance for success. So if you are already waivering on the resolution, reevaluate and make sure you are expending energy in the right direction.

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