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How to Choose a New Year's Resolution You Can Keep

I may not be an expert when it comes to preparing for the holidays, but I sure do have a lot of experience.

Most resolutions are made to be broken. This year, choose one that's incremental and achievable.

Most resolutions are made to be broken. This year, choose one that's incremental and achievable.

So, the presents are opened, and the kids are already bored with their new toys . . . what's next? The new year is coming, and your mind is bubbling with resolutions and hopeful ideas for a better you. But these hopeful ideas are always hard to implement.

The new year comes immediately after two months of high stress, fighting family members, and an abundance of expenses. You cook, clean, and decorate yourself into a nervous breakdown. It's hard to think, let alone stay up for an entire night just to wish everyone a happy new year and tell them all about your New Year's resolution . . . you know, the one you won't keep?

Most resolutions are broken before January's first week is done. This year, why not try something different—something that is not only workable but will last well into many new years to come?

Why Resolutions Are Hard to Keep

Resolutions are generally broad and incredibly difficult to track. They are supposed to embody your desire to dramatically change yourself and your attitude for the new year. However, because they are such large bites of change, they are nearly impossible for you to keep up with. You might be trying to reduce how much you eat and cut out all carbs and sweets. Your body and your mind can't deal with that while dealing with everything else included in a new year.

Things like losing weight, maintaining a happier demeanor, or speaking up for yourself at work can be overwhelming when attempted all at once. Today, you are pigging out on your favorite foods, and then tomorrow, you will eat nothing to make up for it. This is not how you train your mind and body to make changes that will last. Instead, you have to begin small.

Imagine Things Differently

Our bodies are giant soft machines. They need adjustments, replacement parts, and fuel to run properly. If, for instance, you took your brand new car and filled it with rubbing alcohol or a bottle of gin, it would not run very well, even if the idea is to give it more burn when it moves.

Imagine instead that your resolution is a very large plate of your favorite food. If you were to try to eat it all in one bite, you would get food everywhere, including your clothes, your lap, and the floor. But if you break it down into small bites, you can easily eat the whole plate—and quite quickly as well.

The same idea holds true for anything you want to accomplish. Break it down and work small sections at a time, then put the completed sections together to make the whole thing. You don't need to stress over it because you are getting it done. It will even go faster because you are not stressing about it, and you are getting a better feel for how it will work as you go. That means you can adjust it as you go along to make the finished product that much better.

How to Set an Achievable Resolution

  1. Decide what you want to be the final goal.
  2. Break down what must be accomplished to achieve that goal.
  3. Break the steps down further so they can be easily completed.
  4. Choose deadlines for each achievement.
  5. Reward each success.
  6. Remember to work the changes your way—not everyone else's.
  7. Remember that everything can be done, but not always right away.
  8. Keep trying—even if you stop for a little bit or get frustrated with yourself, you can start again.
  9. Never be harsh with yourself if something isn't working. Instead, seek another way to accomplish the task.
  10. Celebrate your success with a small goal—then set up another one.

Never give up on yourself. You can do it! You really are strong enough! Just knowing you can do it is half the battle.

What Not To Do

Let's say that you have decided that you need to lose weight to be a new you for this new year. Here's the wrong way to do it:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Eat less food, eat fewer sweets, and exercise more.
  3. Eat smaller portions, skip dessert, and go to the gym.
  4. By the end of one month, pat yourself on the back for doing a good job.
  5. Reward yourself with a hot fudge sundae.
  6. Keep reminding yourself that you are stronger than food.
  7. Realize you need to document how you are doing so you can condemn yourself for failing.
  8. Say to yourself, "I can do this . . . maybe."
  9. Think you are doing well until you see your coworkers eating cake in the break room. Ahhhhhhh!
  10. Give in and think, "Maybe tomorrow I can lose the weight. Or maybe I just can't lose weight . . ."

Documenting each day can be very helpful in keeping up with your steps and can give you that added push to keep going. But do not write any negative insults or put yourself down for a failure. You can start again without much progress lost, but won't if you condemn yourself.

What to Do Instead

  1. I want to achieve the goal of fitting into my gown for my sister's wedding.
  2. I want to lose weight. My target is thirty pounds
  3. I need to stop eating as much, eat fewer sweets, and do more exercise.
  4. If I use a smaller plate and eat slower at my meals, I can eat less at each meal. I can do this first for two weeks and see how I do.
  5. If I eat a dessert after my meal, I need to limit it to one. I can make it smaller as I go along.
  6. I should start walking around my house and build from there. Once I am comfortable with one thing, I can add another to the routine.
  7. I believe that I can complete the task within six months. I limit my smaller steps to two weeks and then reevaluate my situation.
  8. I know this will be hard to accomplish at all so I believe I should do just one small step before moving on. I will use a smaller plate first. Once I am doing this step comfortably, perhaps in two weeks' time, I can keep that step and also begin the next one. As a reward, I can eat something I really love like pie and whipped cream—once.
  9. I know I love my food. I have to use the smaller plate so it will look like I am eating the same amount of food. I can hang my gown on the outside of my closet so I see it every day and get motivated.
  10. I have blown my steps and eaten a huge plate of hash with cheese and snack chips for dipping because I didn't want to reheat any of it. I actually hate this, but if I give up, I won't succeed.
  11. I will start again. I know I can do it. I just need to keep myself trying.
  12. I won't tell myself how I can never do anything right. Instead, I will tell myself I can do it if I just don't give up.
  13. I did not make the six-month deadline, but I did lose five pounds. I can lose weight! I am going to the party with the girls tonight and I am going to enjoy myself. Tomorrow, I will start again.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Cheryl Simonds

Comments

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on January 01, 2021:

Thank you Peggy, for your encouragement. I hope your resolution is also successful.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 31, 2020:

This is good advice to take small steps at a time. Good luck with any new year's resolutions you might have.

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