New Years Resolutions- Revisited

It's that time of the year again. The start of a new year. Yes, time to start the New Year with a clean slate and a fresh new outlook on life. New Year's Day is ...

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It's that time of the year again. The start of a new year. Yes, time to start the New Year with a clean slate and a fresh new outlook on life. New Year's Day is the time that many people also pick to make those resolutions to change their ways and get rid of their bad habits. People start with great intentions, but why do most New Year's Resolutions fail in such short time?

There are several answers to this problem. First, many people use the New Year's Day resolution as a stalling tactic. They delay starting a self-improvement plan until January 1, claiming that it is the best time to start positive changes. What they are really doing is drawing the perennial line in the sand. They could start a self-improvement program at any time, but they delay until the magical date, January 1. However, when that date comes, they consciously stall and draw a new line in the sand- by picking another magical date. Clearly, many of these, so called, resolutions will never materialize, because people resist change or are afraid of change. Therefore, we actually do not need New Year's to make positive changes in our lives. Start to make positive changes everyday or any day.

For those people who do really try to keep their resolutions, they fall by the wayside by making some common, and remediable, errors such as:

1. Setting limits too high. To remedy this, set small goals that are achievable. Do not start by saying you want to lose 25 pounds in a month when that is unreasonable and unhealthy. A more realistic goal might be 1/2 1 pounds a week.

2. Trying to change too many things at once. Try to change one aspect of yourself at a time. When that goal is achieved, then you can move on to the next goal. By conquering one problem at a time, there is a better possibility of reaching success. We know that there is nothing better than success to increase motivation to tackle other problems.

3. Keeping resolutions a secret. If you keep a resolution a secret, you are giving yourself a back door out. If you do not work on your goal and no one knows about the resolution, they also would not know if you quit. You are not benefiting from the extra push that social reinforcement offers for human endeavors. By letting everyone know what your resolution is, you are invoking social pressure to help keep you on target.

4. Taking slips as an indication of failure and a sign to quit. When you are tackling a difficult task or a significant behavior change, there are bound to be slips. No one has been on a diet without cheating and eating thing that they should have avoided. Others have been on exercise programs and somehow lost their way to the gym for a few days. These are what we see as episodes in learning. It is helpful to learn what triggered the behaviors and adapt ways to combat the temptations. It is important to see them as slips and not falls. In addition, most importantly, to not see slips as a sign that you have to give up on your goal.

For those who have made resolutions for 2004, follow these simple guidelines and you may be happily surprised with your success. Best Wishes For A Healthy And Happy New Year.