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Strategies for a Successful New Year's Resolution

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions only to lose focus, drive, and desire within a few weeks. Even if you have a strong motivator, the temptation and comfort of old habits are often stronger. Below are six questions to ask yourself which may give you a more complete approach and hopefully increase your success.

What are Your Motives? Change is difficult and often uncomfortable, so without a lasting and intense desire for the outcome, long-term success can be problematic. You must also have a clear and solid understanding of why the outcome is so valuable to you. Without strong desire and understanding, the discomfort of change can be difficult to overcome.

Healthy weight loss, for example, requires a serious amount of determination to learn and implement new strategies. The desire for weight loss must be strong enough and practiced long enough to overcome the temptation and comfort of old habits. The strength of this desire depends on the perceived value of losing weight.

What do you value most in life? Your resolutions need to line up with your values. How much better would your life be if you achieved those resolutions? If the answers aren’t deeply inspiring and overwhelmingly important to your life, then your motivation will likely disappear quickly, leaving your chances of success limited.

Can You See Your Success? Your thoughts and your own perspective have a powerful influence on your actions. If you perceive that you ARE making progress and can visualize yourself AT your goal, these positive thoughts serve as valuable sources of motivation. But if you have doubts and negative thoughts about how difficult your resolutions are and can’t imagine what life will look like once you achieve them, you may give up too soon.

There are no three words more deceptive than “I WILL TRY.” People who say “I will try” give themselves permission to fail. No matter what happens, they can always claim that they “tried.” Those who achieve their goals will instead say “I WILL DO” whatever the goal or resolution is. Do, or do not. There is no “try.” By picturing your success instead of dwelling on your doubts, you make small, often subconscious decisions that can accumulate into big changes.

Is There Just One Single Change? It’s exciting to think about and plan lots of New Year’s resolutions with lofty goals. But often we’re too hasty. Picking a single habit or routine to change can be tough, but by focusing on one change at a time, you increase the amount of effort that you devote to it and increase your rate of success.

What Can You Do Today to Improve? It is important to do something every day that furthers the success of your goal. This causes momentum and helps maintain motivation. Even small things add up to big changes over time.

How Can You Educate Yourself? Number one: honestly and objectively evaluate your resolution, goals, motives, and plan. Number two: learn your reasons: the why, what, where, who, and hows will help you make wise decisions and changes that make sense to YOU. No amount of motivation, effort, or white-knuckling can work better than choosing an approach that fits with your values, schedule, lifestyle, and abilities. Many New Year’s resolutions—especially weight loss—require changes that need to become habits. So if these changes are too difficult to incorporate into your daily life, chances are you’ll revert back to old habits.

Keep your resolutions simple, make one at a time, find your motivations, visualize yourself in the future as successful, and remember: Do, or do not. There is no “try”!

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