How NOT to Break Your New Year’s Resolutions

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Goals, resolutions whatever you want to call them – *most* of us have decided on some for this year, right?  (If you haven’t, then you don’t need to read this post – perhaps this one about working out with a personal trainer you’ll find more interesting).

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What are your resolutions?

Now that we’re a few days into the year, perhaps keeping those goals is proving to be more difficult than you had expected.  I know for me it is.  Does that mean you should just throw in the towel and vow not to do anything to improve your health? Of course not! Also, that would render my blog pointless.. But rather than making vague promises that you’ll likely break — like lose 10 pounds or get more exercise — there are smarter ways to adjust your health habits and make changes you can stick with permanently:

1.    Choose a goal that has a specific action.
Promising to lose weight, exercise more, or quit smoking does little to help you achieve the goal without defining how you’re going to do those things. If you smoke a pack a day, are you more likely to succeed if you cut back by a cigarette a day or if you go cold turkey? And let’s say you promise to start walking every day for 30 minutes; how are you going to do that during the cold, dark, snowy winter? Figure out what will work for you, and you’ll make changes you can stick with.

2. Find meaning in your resolution.
Trying to get yourself from dipping into your chocolate stash by telling yourself that “thin tastes better” will probably get you nowhere since chocolate now tastes far better than some future promise of thin. On the other hand, promising to lose 20 pounds if you have diabetes so you can live to see your grandchildren is a strong motivation to stick with that goal – It really helps to figure out whether this goal is really important to you and why.

3. Make your goal sustainable.
Don’t over-reach and don’t set an artificial time limit like squeezing into a size 6 dress for your friend’s wedding. Above all, don’t set out to do something that will require you to be a different person than you are in order to do it. If you hate going to the gym and getting up early, pushing yourself to attend the boot-camp workout at 6 a.m. is going to make you miserable and you’ll likely quit before February. On the other hand, if you truly enjoy running on the treadmill, make that your thrice weekly workout.

4. Set a goal to be “good enough” rather than perfect.
That means if you swear off drinking binges and then down five vodka-Red Bulls, you haven’t really failed in your resolution. You’ve simply taken a temporary break and will  now resume.

5. Have it be something that would actually contribute to your happiness.
The only reason to resolve to do more or less of something is because you know that the change will make you happier. Read more novels if you want “but not because you want to be The Kind of Person Who Reads Novels. Exercise because you want to be healthier, have an excuse to listen to bad music, or lose weight. Any reason is better than the stock reason “People say that I should and therefore I should. 

In the eloquent words of Bon Jovi:

“It ‘s your life …it ‘s now or never. 

Not strictly true “you can just as easily decide to make a change on May 28th or August 2nd or November 19th. But why not now? The new year is an officially sanctioned time to say “I deserve better then what I ‘ve been giving myself.  You ain ‘t gonna live forever ….and you might as well live (well) while you ‘re alive.

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