Four steps to successful resolutions

Does this sound familiar? It's late January and you feel like singing the blues. It's gray, chilly (or downright freezing), and you have had enough of winter already. You began "forgetting" about your New Years resolutions over two weeks ago-- and even though you really feel a strong desire to change something, you've lost all your motivation and find it difficult just to get up off of the couch once you have settled there after work or on a slow weekend day.

If this scenario resonates with you, the following five simple steps are guaranteed to jump start your aspirations and help you keep those promises you made to yourself. All you need to start is to take a few moments out of your busy life, then:

* Start with one or two resolutions only

If you try to make too many changes too quickly--you will become overwhelmed, which leads to failure. One or two goals will give you plenty to work on and they will be more easily incorporated into your already demanding schedule.

* Keep your expectations realistic

It would be nice to make sweeping changes quickly--however, setting the bar unrealistically high will only lead to burn-out and reinforce your belief that you are incapable of making desired changes. One way to keep it simple is to break a large goal into smaller objectives. A classic example is that of losing 100+ pounds. Some objectives to help you realistically accomplish this would be to: plan and implement a lower calorie/ lower fat diet; start a low impact exercise plan that you build onto over time, and learn behavioral strategies for handling binge eating, eating out, and emotionally charged eating. By working on these one at a time you will build in more positive reinforcement and immediate gratification as you find success with each step you take.

* Make a concrete plan

All you will need to accomplish this is a pen and a calendar, a blackberry, and/or an online calendar. In other words, you need to write down the where, when and how you will implement your objective. If you don't make the time for healthy eating or write up the menus and purchase the food or sign up for an exercise class, join a gym and/or plan your own exercise routine- it won't happen. The days will pass by and at the end of each; you will look in the mirror and wonder if things will ever change.

* Take it one day at a time

If you fall off the wagon, get back on later that day or the next. Try not to see your success or failure as black and white--success lies in navigating all the shades and hues in-between these two. All is not lost if you eat that doughnut at work or forget to bring your salad for lunch. Try to follow up the doughnut with a couple of glasses of spring water or a handful of baby carrots. For lunch, go out and find a salad bar at a local supermarket--or perhaps there is a sandwich shop that offers low calorie, high protein and energy lunches. If you end up having that doughnut then eating lunch with co-workers at McDonalds--go home and have something light and healthy for dinner, with a spring water or green tea chaser. The next day, you can pick right back up with a healthy breakfast.

Even though I used weight loss as an example, these steps work well for those relationship resolutions too. Break your dating goals into objectives that address things like: online dating, identifying local resources for meeting like-minded singles, working on increasing your emotional IQ in order to attract the kind of person you seek, and/or getting your finances and other personal issues in order so that you are truly ready for and have time for the right relationship when it comes along. There may be other objectives you will want to add to your list--just keep them real, write them down, and take it one day at a time.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"Why New Year's resolutions usually fail"
List of more "Self growth & Self Improvement" articles

"10 important lessons to learn from past relationships"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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