Wednesday's Top 10: Keeping New Year's Resolutions

New Year's resolutions are supposed to be ongoing goals, so don't focus too much on the start date.

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Making New Year's resolutions is easy. We do it when we're all full, happy and a little overwhelmed from the holidays. Keeping New Year's resolutions is a different story. But getting in the right mindset (both before and after January 1st) will help you in keeping New Year's resolutions.  Chances are, at some time in your life, you've made a New Year's Resolution -- and then broken it. This year, stop the cycle of resolving to make change, but then not following through.

There is nothing magical about January 1. If you give your New Year’s resolution a trial run in December, and it goes well then keep it up. And there is no reason you can't start in February or March, if that is when the desire to make a change strikes you. New Year's resolutions are supposed to be ongoing goals, so don't focus too much on the start date. Now, on the other hand, don’t let this be an excuse to let procrastination get the better of you!

Here are 10 tips to help get you started:

Be Realistic - The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable.

Plan Ahead - Don't make your resolution on New Year's Eve. If you wait until the last minute, your decisions will be based on your mindset on that particular day.  

Outline Your Plan - Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or have one more cigarette. This could include calling on a friend for help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk.

Make a "Pro" and "Con" List - It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time, and ask others to contribute to it. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.

Talk About It - Don't keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best case scenario is to find yourself a buddy who shares your New Year's resolution and motivate each other.

Reward Yourself - Celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution.

Track Your Progress - Keep track of each small success you make toward reaching your larger goal. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help keep you motivated.

Don't Beat Yourself Up - Obsessing over the occasional slip won't help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take each day one at a time.

Stick To It - Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality. Your new healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.

Keep Trying - If your resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don't despair. Start over again! There's no reason you can't make a "New Year's resolution" any time of year.

Let us know how you tackle resolutions on Forum.