Setting and Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions in 2008

January 2, 2008 8:18:35 AM PST
About 100 million Americans make New Year's Resolutions. Chances are you've made one and then broken it. The most common resolutions are:
1. Increase Exercise
2. Lose Weight / Eat Healthy
3. Stop Smoking, Drinking, Using Drugs (including caffeine)
4. Perform better at work or school
5. Save or Earn More Money
6. Find A Better Job
7. Become More Organized

Ten Tips to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions:

1. Attitude: Start the process of change with a positive and healthy attitude. Make resolutions that state "I will" commitments, as opposed to "I will not." Research shows that believing you can change is one the most significant predictor of success. If you aren't confident in your resolution or willing to persist in the face of setbacks, this may not be your year to make it.

2. Be realistic and specific: Make goals that are realistic and clear cut. A goal such as I will exercise a minimum of twice a week for 30 minutes for the month of January is more realistic and clear-cut than I am going to the gym everyday in the New Year if you aren't exercising much now. Making the goal very specific makes it more realistic that you will follow through and be successful. Say what you will do and by when.

3. Make resolutions that are inspiring. So often we keep making the same resolution such as "lose 10 pounds" year after year but that resolution is completely uninspiring and therefore doomed from the start. Set goals that you are inspired by - "Look and feel great at my high school reunion"; "Be proud to be in a bathing suit by the summer", or "Run 5 10K races in 2008" may be much a much more inspiring goal than just losing weight.

4. Plan ahead: Don't make your resolution on New Year's Eve. If you wait until the last minute, it will be based on your mind-set that particular day. You are more likely to keep resolutions that are well planned before December 31 arrives. If you haven't planned your resolution - you can take the month of January to do that and start in February


5. Develop an action plan in writing. Create a timeline with steps toward your goal. Set deadlines for each step and cross them off as you go. Sometimes just crossing things off and watching your list get smaller can give you a sense of accomplishment and help you keep going.

6. Talk about it: Don't keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better. The best case scenario is to find yourself a buddy who shares your New Year's Resolution and motivate each other.

7. Reward Yourself: Acknowledge your achievements, even the small ones. Reaching a goal takes hard work and you should be proud of your efforts. This doesn't mean that if your resolution is to diet you can eat an entire box of chocolates. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy.

8. Don't Beat Yourself Up: Obsessing over the occasional slip won't help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take them one at a time.

9. Keep trying: If your resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don't despair. Start over again! There's no reason you can't make a "New Year's Resolution" any time of year. Research shows that when you can learn from setbacks, you are more likely to eventually make changes. Persistence pays off!

10. Seek help. If your resolutions/goals attempt to overcome some of the more dangerous or difficult behaviors such as smoking, drinking too much, drug abuse, etc., get help. Consult your doctor or other health professional before trying it alone - there are experts out there who have the knowledge and experience you will need to achieve your goals.

Alison Miller, Ph.D.
Life Coach and Psychologist
Life Essentials