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Sunday 22 January 2012

12 Steps for keeping resolutions!

Change is hard. Unlearning a bad habit or practicing a new one takes time, patience, self-kindness, and a plan.

Every January, gyms and yoga studios overflow with well-intentioned folks trying to make their New Year's resolutions reality. Soon enough, though, the crowds dwindle, and many a resolution has been snowed under by stress or crazy-high expectations.

But it might not be the resolution that's to blame: it might be your approach. Change is hard. Unlearning a bad habit or practicing a new one takes time, patience, self-kindness, and a plan.

Pick one. People resolve to change habits. But it's hard enough to change just one, let alone 3 or 5 or 10. We should resolve to change one habit. Picture or list your priorities and put a big circle around the one that matters most to you right now.

Pick small. A big-picture goal is good but tough to achieve. Shrink your ambition to a size you can visualize clearly.

Visualize it. Begin at the end, not the beginning. See where you want to be at the realization of your goal, who you want to be and what you want to do once you get there.

Ask yourself why. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it so you'll feel more energy? Why do you want to cut out caffeine? Is it so you'll have fewer headaches? Why do you want to spend more time with friends? Is it because you need to laugh more often? Give yourself an answer to your question. A goal finds its meaning in the tangible effects it causes, not in the goal itself.

Map out obstacles. Know that bumps rise up on any road. How will you keep trucking? Take a new route to your goal? Repave the road? Drive right over it? When you resolve to exercise more, a day will come when you're forced to skip your workout, for whatever reason. When that happens, don't hit the brakes. Sneak in a walk around the block. Go to the very next session you can make it to. Or say no to the other commitment and head to the gym.

Name your muse. Think of someone or something that inspires you in a way that relates to your resolution. If you want to get more writing done, think of your most admired author. If you want to organize your home, think of your best friend from university who had the super-efficient 10×10-foot dorm room.

Train. Enlist an expert to help you rehearse your resolution. If fitness is your goal, sign up with a personal trainer before you try it on your own. Before you toss out your last pack of cigarettes, talk to your doctor or to your friend who quit smoking last year.

Start. Think like a baby: First steps are the hardest, but you take them because what else are you going to do? Toddle, fall, pull yourself up on the coffee table – just start!

Make it public. Now that you've begun, tell someone. It might be your partner, your kids, your best friend, or the readers of your personal blog. Tell the world you have a goal in mind and they'll support you when you need a boost.

Do swaps. Faced with the challenge to change, you can replace an undesired habit with a new, healthier one. Swap a smoke break for a walk with a coworker. Switch off that reality TV show and spend time with your kids before bed. Type an email to a friend instead of biting your nails.

Play up positives. Give yourself permission to celebrate small victories. Notice when you get it right. Let your support system know, too. It's less fun giving yourself a high-five, after all.

Pace yourself. You're on a path with its own distance and its own twists and turns. Just because it's called a New Year's resolution doesn't mean you have to complete it ASAP or even by the time the calendar turns to December.


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