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New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

January 11, 2012

What are the obvious signs of New Year’s resolutions? The gym is flooded with new members battling for every treadmill? The checkout line at the grocery story is filled with carts of vegetables instead of two-gallon ice cream containers? Sure, it sounds cynical, but not matter how sincere we are about making resolutions, many of us revert to our old ways long before February 1st.


So are New Year’s resolutions outdated? Not necessarily. Experts offer a few recommendations for turning resolutions into real long-term change:


Devise “I can” resolutions instead of “I won’t.”


When you frame your resolution as a negative, it can feel like you’re depriving yourself. Instead, turn it around, and make it an empowering statement. Instead of “I will quit smoking,” change it to: “I will overcome my smoking habit.”


Get specific on maintaining the resolution.


You can’t be successful in business when you don’t set a concrete target to shoot for. The same is true of behavior. It’s difficult to change a key part of your life unless you have chosen specific actions to achieve it. For example, if your resolution is to carve out more family time, you might commit to checking email in the evenings only after the kids are in bed. If you plan to exercise more, you might decide to wake up 30 minutes earlier or walk the dog after dinner every night.


 Write out your resolutions.


In today’s world of technology, it’s not necessary to scribble a note, but the written word, in whatever form, can be a powerful motivator. Set reminders on your smart phone for a set time each day. Write it on the calendar or in your planner. Writing out your action plan is a great reminder of what you’re striving for.


 Tell someone about your resolution.


English scholar John Selden said, “Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it’s twice as onerous a duty.” That’s exactly why it is good to share your resolution with a friend or family member. It’s so much easier to abandon a resolution if no one even knows you’ve made it!


 Don’t let failure stop you!


There’s absolutely no reason to give up on a New Year’s resolution if you slip into old habits. There’s nothing magic about January 1, (except maybe tradition!) so if you have a setback, don’t wait until next year to try again. Resolutions are a process, not a single decision on a single day. Cut yourself some slack, but don’t give up too quickly.


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