12-26-2014 by 

As the year comes to a close and a new year begins to appear on the horizon, the time for resolutions is upon us.  If you are one who struggles with keeping your New Year's Resolutions, it can be frustrating and disheartening to try and miss the mark. This year give yourself an advantage and get off on the right foot with these five tips to help you get started.

1.  Be Realistic About Resolutions

Do not set goals and make resolutions that you have little to no chance of keeping. Vowing to go from 3 sodas a day to none is a recipe for failure, as is trying to drop 100 pounds. Make lots of small resolutions that you can build upon and you will be much more motivated and less likely to become discouraged.

2.  Make a “Pros” and “Cons” List

Some people find it helpful to make up a list of the good and bad aspects of their resolutions. Pros may be better health, lost weight and such and the cons may be cravings, missing an activity or treat you enjoy. Listing things can help make them seem more tangible and will also serve as a physical reminder of what your resolution goals are. 

3.  Reward Yourself

Do not eat a whole box of candy or down a case of soda to reward yourself for sticking to your cut back resolution for a few weeks. Instead, celebrate that milestone and success by treating yourself to a reward that is not in direct conflict with your resolution.  Lost some weight? Treat yourself with a nice new outfit. Stuck to a diet? Reward yourself with a healthy yet slightly 'sinful' treat to satisfy that sweet tooth. These little rewards help you stay motivated and help protect against binges and backsliding.

4.  Track Your Progress

Keep a record of every small set and every minor success. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and are less intimidating. Break that 50 pound weight loss goal into 5 pound chunks and celebrate when each milestone is met. Record the day you last had a beer, cigarette, or soda and track how long you have gone without a fix. These written tracking notes can really help motivate you!

5.  Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Taking a resolution and making it a habit takes time. Studies have shown it takes 21 days for a new activity to be fixed in the brain and to become more like a habit than a chore. It won’t happen overnight, so be persistent and patient! When you do stumble and backslide, do not give up and throw the towel in- just pick yourself up and start over again! Recommit yourself for 24 hours. Focus on holding to your resolution for one day, then another day, and only focus on the day at hand and soon it will be easier to maintain your Ne Year's Resolution as a habit and choice!

Mood Keywords: resolutions, sad, future, satisfaction, self-esteem
1) "Making Your New Year's Resolution Stick", American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx no date
2) "How to Keep New Year's Resolutions", Cosmopolitanhttp://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/advice/g1613/5-tips-new-years-resolution/  no date
Image Credits: almoond © 123RF.com (used under license)
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