Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ten Tips For Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Making resolutions is easy. Keeping them long-term can be a challenge, even for the most serious-minded folks. Here are a few tips to keep you going. Enjoy!
1. Make sure your goals are reasonable and attainable within the time frame you set. Goals such as "I'm going to lose 20 lbs in the next two weeks" are not only unreasonable, but could be dangerous to your health. 

2. Include your goals in your daily schedule and make them routine. For example, let's say your goal is to exercise more. Examine your schedule and find a slot that would be doable on a consistent basis. Things like 15 minutes before hitting the shower in the morning and a 15 minute power walk on your lunch break might be easier than trying to carve out a thirty minute chunk of time each day.

3. Make your goal your daily mantra. Write your goals down and each morning, as you get up, read them over. This will reinforce your commitment and keep the drive to achieve them fresh. I like to write mine down on an index card and laminate it. Then, I can hang it on the mirror in the bathroom and read it as I brush my teeth in the morning and at night before I go to bed.

4. Don't be hard on yourself. Making changes to any routine is going to take some getting used to. Setbacks are to be expected. So if you miss a day of exercise, smoke a cigarette when you're trying to quit or forget to put money in your savings account, don't beat yourself up about it. Instead, look at it as a challenge for you to get back on track and keep working toward your goals. Every day is a brand new start.  So start over and keep going! You will get there eventually

5. Remember that changes take time. As citizens of the 21'st Century, we have been taught that we must have everything and have it NOW. If you want to be successful, FORGET that sentiment. Changes take time. Sometimes a long time. Smoking cessation takes weeks for the nicotine to flush completely from your system.Savings take time to build and weight loss and fitness take months to really show. Be patient with yourself.

6. Keep a journal of your progress. Commercials use "Before and After" picture for good reason. Having a point of reference can be a valuable tool to keep yourself on track. In three weeks, when you're feeling like you've accomplished nothing, you can look back in your journal and see where you started and realize that even if you are only one miniscule step away from your starting point, you are still one step away and every step is one closer to attaining your goal. Keep going! 

7. Reward Yourself for each small victory. Every time you complete a small milestone (12 hours without a cigarette, 1 pound of weight loss, 10 dollars in savings,) be sure to reward yourself somehow. A nice hot bubble bath, a relaxing movie night, a new app for your phone, whatever works for you. Don't forget the long-term rewards too. If you're quitting smoking for example, put the money that you would have used on cigarettes in a savings account. At the end of the year, use that money to do something special. If you're losing weight, put a set amount of money aside (say a dollar) for each pound you lose. Then, when you've lost the weight, splurge and use the money to buy something you want or put it toward a nice night out with friends.

8. Be proactive! Your home is your sanctuary, so prepare it for your new lifestyle. Remove temptations (junk food, ashtrays, etc) and make small changes that will encourage you to keep on track. For example, if fitness is your goal, set aside a special "fitness" drawer in your dresser to hold your workout clothes and a small space (even a corner of your bedroom will work) to stretch and do simple exercises like push-ups or crunches. Create healthy menus for the week and if you have time on a Sunday, cook up meals and freeze them ahead so that you can have healthy, hearty meals even on those crazy nights you have to work late.

9. Share your Dreams! Sharing your goals with others and enlisting their support will help you stay on target. 

10.  Last but not least, Get Involved! Joining others who are working on the same goals as you are will help keep you motivated and working toward your goals. Fitness Clubs, Weight Watchers, and meet-up groups will help get you out of your old routine and make you "accountable" for your success. 

Have a safe and happy New Year!

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