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Making a Resolution and Making it Work

New Year is the time when most of us feel the need to wipe our slates clean and start anew, all fresh and sparkly. We all want to lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, save more money, patch up relationships gone sour and other things alike, but anyone who has ever made a resolution can tell you that this is easier said than done.

Researchers Elizabeth Miller and Alan Marlatt of the University of Washington conducted a study to understand the factors that predict success in carrying out New Year resolutions.

The study suggests that in order to be successful in our resolutions, we must:

  • Be committed to making a change

  • Have strategies to tackle problem and obstacles that may arise in the course of fulfilling our resolutions

  • Monitor our progress in order to do better

The study also points out the formulating resolutions in the following manners will definitely doom the same:

  • Making last minute resolutions as a reaction to New Year’s Eve

  • Making resolutions based on what is on your mind or bothering you at the time

  • Making absolute resolutions by saying, “I will never do XYZ again.”

On average only about 20% of us keep our New Year's resolutions. Here are few pointers that will help you make your New Year resolutions last all year long:

  1. Have a positive attitude about your resolutions. Losing weight need not always be a difficult and hard process. Frame your resolutions as “I will” as opposed to “I will not”

  2. Make your resolutions your own; never make them because you think it is what some one else wants of you.

  3. Make realistic goals that are within your reach keeping in mind your schedule, finances and other personal factors.

  4. Don’t make too many resolutions. If you do, you will only spread yourself too thinly resulting in the failure of all of them. Have 2-3 goals and make sure you properly commit yourself to them.

  5. Have specific goals like “I will save 25% of my paycheck” instead of, “I will save money” or, “I will exercise three times a week” instead of, “I will exercise more”. People with specific goals are more likely to reach them than people who have made vague, ambiguous promises to themselves.

  6. Break your goal down into several mini-goals and create a timeline for achieving each of them. Crossing these mini-goals off of your list after you are done with them will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you further.

  7. Let your family and friends know of your resolutions so that they can help you when you’re going off track. They can be your support network who will remind and encourage you.

  8. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if your aim is to overcome a dangerous or difficult problem like excessive smoking, drinking, drug abuse, obesity etc. There are several experts with the right knowledge and experience who can give you the proper tools to help you beat your bad habits.

  9. Don’t forget to reward yourself. A periodic pat on the back as you accomplish your resolves will keep you motivated. Acknowledge your achievements, even the small ones. Reaching a goal takes hard work and you should be proud of your efforts.

  10. Stay positive about your progress. Keep in mind that setbacks can happen. Don't become discouraged and give up. Instead, recommit. Dust yourself off and get going again.

  11. And remember to give it time. Most experts agree that it takes about 21 days to create a habit and six months for it to actually become a part of your daily life. Persistence is the key.

As final words of encouragement to resolution makers, Marlatt has these suggestions: "Take credit for success when you achieve a resolution, but it is a mistake to blame yourself if you fail. Instead, look at the barriers that were in your way. See how you can do better the next time and figure out a better plan to succeed. You do get to try again and can make behavior changes throughout the year, not only at New Year's."

That said good luck!

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