Now that we’ve determined the Mayans were wrong and we haven’t all met with our demise, our thoughts turn to self-improvement and making the most of our new year. Perhaps it’s the relief of no longer being subjected to yet another version of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” in the grocery store. Perhaps it’s the solid month of writing 2012 2013 each time we have to put a date on something. Or perhaps it’s hanging up that new calendar and feeling as though we get a fresh start. If you’re like most of us, making those New Year’s resolutions is pretty easy—it’s the sticking with them that is hard. Allow me to offer up four tips to help keep your eye on the prize.

1. Set up realistic goals – and a plan to follow through on them.

Whether you’re a “start small and make gradual changes” or “go big or go home” kind of person, take a look at what you want to make sure it really is doable. A person who wants to start exercising probably shouldn’t start with running a marathon. If you want to find a place to begin, determine your two points of reference. If we use the example of starting an exercise program, we could list “put on your shoes” at one end of the spectrum, and “run 26.2 miles consecutively” at the other end. That gives us an idea about where we are now, and where we want to be; all of the points in between help us know when we’re on track.

2. Allow for setbacks.

Make your resolutions not so… well, resolute. Depending upon the situation, change can be finite and fixed, or it can be more process oriented. Often, our resolutions are centered on a personal behavior that requires us to start doing something, or stop doing something. For most of us, changing behavior is a process that takes time and practice. So, if you fall back into old behaviors, catch yourself and move forward. Don’t declare your resolution a complete failure because of some occasional slip-ups.

3. Make it personal.

I heard a joke once about New Year’s Resolutions that went something like this: “I don’t mind making New Year’s resolutions; I write the same list every year”. If you can relate to that, your ambitions may lack some personalization. While it’s valuable to get input from those you trust, it’s worth the time to reflect on why you are setting these goals for yourself. Set your sights on changes that are meaningful to YOU.

4. January…or not. You choose.

I, like many others, tend to rebel against change if I feel it has been imposed upon me. But, we need to remember: New Year’s resolutions are SELF-imposed life changes. When I remember that I have a choice, it makes it that much easier to stay on track. Maybe January 1st is good timing for you… and maybe it’s not. Knowing when you’re ready to affect change in your life can make all of the difference.

When we declare a need to change something in our lives, we are saying, “this part of my life/behavior/state of being that no longer works for me”. We are making the decision to choose something better for ourselves. In reality, you CAN accomplish those goals. Show yourself how much you deserve it!

What do you do to stay committed to your aspirations?


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