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New Year's resolutions: How to make them so you can keep them MARSHALL BROWN Like two of every five Americans, most of us begin every new year with stout resolve and good intentions. But like most who make New Year’s resolutions, by the time the spring fashions hit the shop windows, all that resolve has gone the way of last year’s colors. No exercise program. No weight loss. No new job. What goes wrong? The challenge and the difficulty most people face in keeping their resolutions is that changing behavior involves more than simply vowing to do so. A lot more. So, whether you want to do more or less of something, quit something altogether or start something new, here are a few tips that can help.
1. Be sure the change you vow to make is something you really want, not just something you think you should do or some- thing you’re doing for someone else. Altering habits is hard work; if you’re not going after something you really want, you set your- self up for failure.
2. Be specific. Instead of vowing to “lose weight,” be specific: five pounds by March 15. Vague words like “more,” “better” or “less” don’t give you a toehold to measure against. State your goal in incremental, measurable, specific terms. Be certain it’s attainable, too. To go from a sitting position to running a marathon in six weeks may be too long a distance to travel in that short a time.
3. Accentuate the positive. When you just say no, you’re remind- ing yourself of what you can’t have or can’t do. Instead of saying “no fatty foods,” say “nonfat milk and fruits for dessert.” Instead of saying “I can’t smoke,” try “I’m choosing a smoke-free lifestyle.”
4. Believe in yourself. Positive self-talk, affirmations and encouragement really do help. Even if you fail the first time that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to failure. Like the song says, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” Be easy on yourself if you lapse. Change is often a two steps forward, one step back process.
5. Easy does it. Set your goals in short, manageable steps rather than one giant leap. Start off slowly: go to the gym twice a week instead of four times; walk a block instead of a mile; begin with a low- fat breakfast, in a few weeks you can tackle lunch, after that, dinner.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful new year!
Brown is a career and executive coach. He is founder and CEO of Marshall Brown & Associates, an international coaching, training and leadership development company. Visit www.mbrownassociates.com for more information.