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Tips for Staying on Track with your New Year's Resolutions

Every new year, scores of people write down resolutions, confident that this year they will meet their goals. But all too often, a few weeks later, their lists--along with their resolve--are cast off and forgotten.

Success comes with the proper mindset. Following are tips to help keep those New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Set realistic goals.
    Oftentimes, people set themselves up for failure by resolving to accomplish impossible tasks. Losing weight is a popular New Year’s resolution, but a goal of losing, say, 20 pounds in a month guarantees disappointment. Instead, outline realistic goals and how to get there.
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
    Whoever said that you had to go cold turkey? Take baby steps to reach your goals. Realize that achieving any goal takes planning and preparation. It also takes time.
  3. Expect some setbacks.
    Change is tough. And you’re probably going to experience some setbacks as you are making modifications in your life. But the important thing is to not fall into the “all or nothing” trap. A step back doesn’t mean you’ll never go forward again. Many people find themselves in the trap of “all or nothing” thinking and give up. But instead of beating yourself up for “failing,” get back on that exercise regimen. You’ll feel much better for it.
  4. Find someone to share the experience.
    Support makes all the difference. If you plan to stop smoking, find a buddy who will quit with you and begin planning strategies. A buddy will also serve to keep you on track toward your goals.
  5. Don’t compare yourself with others.
    While finding a buddy to share your progress is helpful, don’t let someone else’s progress get you down. Comparing yourself to others is a very self-defeating behavior.  Your only competition is yourself.  
  6. Don’t over scrutinize your progress.
    Evaluating your progress every day often ends in frustration. Don’t do it! Progress updates every week or every two weeks are better since enough time will have lapsed for even small changes to be evident. And resist the urge to compare yourself with others; it’s ultimately self-defeating.
  7. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself.
    Don’t be afraid to give yourself a pat on the back when you make progress. Schedule rewards during the process. But be sure to plan rewards after you’ve taken a step toward reaching your goal. For instance, exercise first and go to the movie second, not vice versa.
  8. Seek professional help.
    Many people try for years to change their bad habits, without success. There is no shame in asking the advice of a medical professional or other support staff. Just think of it as doing something a little different this year to help you reach your goals.

As you make your New Year’s list this year, remember these strategies and keep in mind that success takes time and comes with the proper mindset. Good luck!