Here's how to actually keep your resolutions.So this is the year you're finally going to do it: lose a few pounds, meet The One, pay off your credit card balance, be a better friend. Whatever your goal is, right now you're probably feeling motivated and determined to stay on course. But the sad truth is, the vast majority of New Year's resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks. To keep yours all year long (or as long as you want), read these tips for crafting and carrying out life changes.
By Esther Crain
1. Focus on one resolution only.
People are so gung-ho for change this time of the year that they often vow to make several lifestyle modifications at once. Bad idea. Committing to more than one thing is overwhelming; you only have so much willpower and energy to go around. (Think about it: Can you really put in extra hours at the office in hopes of getting promoted while also giving up caffeine? Not likely.) So pick the one habit or behavior you truly want to tweak and make that your project for 2012.
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2. Be specific.
Resolutions like "I'm going to be healthier" or "I'm going to save a bunch of money" are certainly admirable, but these ambiguous objectives are nearly impossible to stick to. On the other hand, "I'm going lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day" or "I'm going to put $100 dollars a month in my savings account" give you direction and a reasonable time frame to achieve your resolution. The more details and parameters you have, the easier it will be to reach your goal.
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3. Make it a team effort.
Telling your friends and family about your resolution offers two advantages: First, they'll help protect you from potential setbacks...in other words, they won't leave junk food around the house for you to eat in a weak moment. Also, because you won't want disappoint the people rooting for you, you'll try harder to adhere to your resolution.
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4. Commit it to paper.
Writing your goal down and keeping it in view--say, on a post-it note on your computer monitor or car dashboard--makes it feel official and tangible, and therefore you'll be less likely to break it. Keep the wording short and focused; the clearer it is, the more motivating it will be.
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5. Let yourself mess up once in a while.
Changing behavior is truly hard work, so don't allow a one-day sugar binge or couple of sneaked cigarettes leave you feeling demoralized and hopeless. If you get derailed, reframe it as a learning experience and get right back on track.
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