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How to make resolutionsYou made it through the holidays.  You ate or drank or spent too much. You skipped the gym or  shorted your sleep or forgot to meditate a bit too often.  So now you are feeling fat, stressed and TIRED.  Seems like the perfect time for a big change, right? Maybe not.

 Losing weight and getting our physical and financial lives in order are always among the most popular resolutions this time of year. And, they are worthwhile pursuits.  Unfortunately, in spite of our very good intentions, few people actually achieve the goals they set at New Year.  Setting a goal and “failing” can lead to all kinds of unnecessary guilt and perpetuate a vicious cycle of self-sabatoge.  So why do we fail and how can we actually manage to change this year?

One big problem is lack of real motivation to make the kinds of changes we think we say that we want. Before we can withstand all of the sneaky little saboteurs waiting to derail our new lifestyle, we have to be utterly convinced that the payoff is worth the sacrifice. Is having a nest egg more important to you than your morning caramel latte?  What do you have to give up in order to actually get that extra hour of sleep at night and do you really think the sleep is worth it?  Are you being honest about your motivation for losing weight – is it something you want to do for yourself or are you feeling pressured into it by others? Spend some time thinking about the kind of life you truly want – what are the aspects of life that really appeal to you. Is it more time with family or is it more financial security.  Being clear about what we actually want can help us find the motivation to make real, sustainable change.

 Another issue is “winging it” – when it comes to making lasting change, you must have a plan..Setting a goal without identifying clear, manageable steps to accomplishing it is almost guaranteed to end in failure.  Think through the process of getting from where you currently are to where you want to be.  Want to “eat better”?  What, EXACTLY, does that mean?  Does it mean getting rid of junk food and adding in more veggies?  If so, you need to start by taking the first step – removing all junk food from your kitchen.  Next comes stocking up on veggies.  Perhaps you will need to schedule weekly time to do some meal planning.  The idea is to think through the process step-by-step BEFORE you jump in. Establish a “start date” to make the change (hint: this doesn’t  have to be January 1st). Give yourself time to do all the preparatory work in advance.

 This brings up another major obstacle to success: the over-large, over-generalized goal. In order to work, our goals need to be specific, manageable and measurable.    Examples of “bad” goals include:

  • Eating better
  • Getting organized
  • Saving money
  • Getting healthy

 To be useful, you must be able to break your goal down into specific, doable, and measurable steps. People get overwhelmed by big, unrealistic goals and don’t even know where to start.    Create small practical goals instead.  For example, “getting healthy” might look like this:

  1. Buy running shoes by January 7th.
  2. Walk for 20 minutes after dinner Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.
  3. Schedule a physical in February.
  4. Carry a water bottle with me to help increase my fluid intake
  5. Limit dessert to once a week.

By taking smaller steps the whole process become manageable. Here’s a Writing SMART Goals worksheet to help you create really useful, accomplishable resolutions this year.

 Change is possible.  And a new year kind of begs for us to try again, doesn’t it?  So here’s to setting ourselves up for success this time!

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