If losing weight or controlling spending were easy, these same resolutions probably wouldn't land on our New Year's checklist each year. You and I, we have good intentions, right? We want to be healthy and fit to enjoy life and not get winded at the playground with our kids. We want to have extra money to go on vacation or refurnish the living room. But why does that cobalt blue handbag have to be so much better than last year's silver version, and why, oh why, is that new mini tablet so irresistible?
Experts share their tips on making and keeping resolutions, and with a little insight, maybe, just maybe, we can reach our goals this year.
Create monthly themes - Sticking to New Year's resolutions does not have to be all work and no play. Set monthly themes. "Determine what is most important to you, and set time apart for that hurdle. January could be all about food, discovering new recipes, new kitchen tools (my favorite is a juicer), new restaurants, and a new vegetable each week to incorporate in your meals. February could be family or friend themed with organizing fun events and get-togethers, like a book club, museum tours, or a ski trip," Melissa Farley, founder of FitTrition, tells Yahoo! Shine.
Resolve to be stronger - When thinking about your resolutions, ask yourself, "Will this make me stronger?" Certified hypnotist Britta Dubbels says, "Every woman intuitively knows what changes will benefit her the most. What's most important is to feel that the choice is empowering and authentic, and to then visualize what you will gain from the choice, rather than focusing on what you might need to 'give up.'"
Be patient - "It takes time to turn a new workout routine into a weekly habit. Give yourself at least three months to ease into your new exercise program. You will see a change in your body that will help motivate you to continue on with your new routine," says Connie Stetler, BS, NSCA, ACE, certified personal trainer and wellness coach at The Houstonian Club in Houston, Texas.
Increase your well-being with simple, positive activities - CoachClub personal trainer Kristin McGee tells Yahoo! Shine, "Focus on overall well-being by adding simple, positive activities to your daily routine, allowing you to better maintain a healthy lifestyle." She suggests making the conscious decisions to:
* Move more.
* Try new physical activities or fitness programs until you find one you can't live without.
* Try a new healthy recipe once a week.
* Meditate and practice yoga to center yourself and recharge your soul.
Do one thing each day - Program an alarm into your smart phone for the late afternoon to keep yourself on track. "If you have already done something toward your resolution, write it down. You can use the memo pad function in your phone or tablet. You are doing five or eight things toward your goal without thinking, and then, before you know it, you have made it your resolution," suggests Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology.
Make deadlines, but be flexible - "Having clear deadlines for what you want to accomplish can help you make plans for how to achieve your goals, help you better assess what is reasonable, and give you a chance to focus your energy. If you want to save $1,200 in the New Year, then having a goal of saving $100 a month makes this goal more manageable and less overwhelming. Also, by breaking your goals into smaller steps, it gives you flexibility to miss the small deadlines without missing the big goal," says Dr. Isaiah Pickens, a psychologist in New York City.
Keep the list short- Making a list of 10 resolutions is too hard. "Choose only goals that really matter to you. Know why they matter. One to three goals is plenty," says Marcia Singer, Love Arts Foundation's MSW Director.
Focus on milestones, rather than vague resolutions - "Don't set yourself up for failure, frustration, or disappointment; create a fitness plan that details your goals, workout schedule, and milestones of when you want to see and feel results. Knowing when you are going to work out each week and that you want to fit into a little bikini by spring break is more likely to keep you on track," says McGee.
When it comes to goal setting, dig deep - "Align your goals with as many of your personal values as possible. For you to really keep pushing toward your goals when you don't feel like it (because you won't feel like it), they have to be important to you. Make a list of all the reasons your goal is important to you and keep that list close...When it comes to goals, the deeper you dig for reasons, the stronger the roots," explains Dr. Pickens.
Use quiet time to your advantage - Meditate or pray. "This will calm your mind, keep your goals clear, and keep your resolve and resolution strong. Listen within for help, clues, creative ideas, and solutions to challenges along the way," says Singer.
Start from where you are - Choose realistic resolutions. "'No more dessert' is more likely to make someone feel deprived and want to give up. 'Eat at least three fruits and veggies a day' or 'Dessert on weekends only' are more attainable. It's important to set yourself up for success, so you have to start from where you are, not where you want to be," says Stacy Spensley, a certified holistic health coach.
Face your fears - Clinical psychotherapist and life coach to Oprah Winfrey Dr. Anne Dranitsaris says, "What underlying beliefs do you need to challenge? If we believe we can't change, our beliefs drive our actions. Most of the time, beliefs come from our childhood and are the conclusions of a much younger brain. If you want to learn to ballroom dance, but are worried you'll be humiliated, list why and consider what will help, so you can be prepared to act when your fears are triggered."
Stop punishing yourself - If your resolutions usually kick you in the teeth by the second week of January, something needs change. "People set goals with the idea of bettering themselves, but then create the plan/means of achieving these goals from the idea that they need to punish themselves. That mindset cultivates negativity and, ultimately, sets them up for failure," says Dana Santas, E-RYT, ACSM-cpt, Radius Yoga Conditioning.
Use the power of threes - "When applying it to goal setting, you create an ultimate goal that can be broken down into three steps or stages. If establishing a personal yoga practice is your goal, break it down:
1. Begin doing three sun salutations three times per week.
2. Start taking a yoga class once a week
3. Do a 30-minute yoga practice at home on your own.
Set a time frame of either three weeks or three months, adding each additional step weekly or monthly, depending on your time frame," explains Santas.
Skip the resolutions - "Why do you have to wait until January 1 to change your life? If you truly want to change your life, start now! Start your new life today. If you sincerely want to change, set one clear goal with ways to measure whether you are moving forward," says author of "31 Days to Finding Your Inner Sass" Shari Goldsmith, LISW.