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How to Make a New Year's Resolution 101

Posted By Peter Fifield, Monday, January 11, 2010
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2011

During New Year's Day the media was so inundated with Resolution oriented commercials you could almost see the affirming banners of declaration whizzing by your head--"Quit smoking now" or "Lose that weight you always wanted to" were repeated ad-nauseum. Although the barrage was inexorable, there was good reason for the timing of it all-to take advantage of a state of readiness; regardless of how fleeting it may be. Everyone has good intentions around this time of year, what we need help with is follow-through. And now that we are into the second week of the New Year I thought it would be good to check in on the progress.

If you (or a patient you work with) have yet to make a resolution (or maybe better yet an Intention), now is the time! If you find yourself a bit stuck, find one here.

If you already have a goal in mind but have yet to make the first move, following these suggestions could help with new found success.

    Make goals that are measurable. It is extremely difficult to gauge vagueness. A goal such as "I want to eat better" is much more difficult to measure than "I am going to eat four servings of vegetables each day".
    Use a chart to mark your progress. There are many websites that offer exercise charts for tracking progress. Many offer free workout trackers and calorie charts. Sometimes the visual nature of a chart assists with sustaining motivation.
    Set obtainable goals. We tend to get overzealous with our resolutions and in doing so we often set ourselves up for failure. If you are a person that has not exercised since last Thanksgiving (2008), you may not want to commit to the next Ironman qualification. Start slow and build up to where you want to be. Pushing too hard too fast could lead to significant discomfort and, masochists' aside, this pain makes it unlikely we return to the gym for round two. The key is to strike a balance where goals are obtainable yet also expand our comfort zone.
    Stay positive! As it is now the second week of January 2010, 44% of you who committed to quit smoking, have already met some sort of set back in obtaining your goal, mainly you started smoking again. Do not let this discourage you. Re-evaluate and modify your goals to be slightly more obtainable and try again.
    Make your goals known. More often than not, women are more successful when announcing their objectives to someone...anyone. Regardless of your gender, losing anonymity begets accountability and thus, we tend to be more successful with sustaining change.
    Provide a reward system and keep it fun! Not all behavior change has to be miserable. Creating a reward system for adherence to change can add a sense of enjoyment to the process. Basically if we do not enjoy doing it, we typically don't do it again.
    Try to make at least some change. For some individuals, quitting smoking outright is not something they wish to do but committing to "reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day by 1/3" is a step in the right direction. This harm reduction model can be used towards many different goals; calorie reduction, cutting down on alcohol or increasing exercise are some examples.

One definition of insanity is to try the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. True second order change (not doing more of the same) can prove to be difficult. If you have tried over and over to change a certain behavior, maybe your approach is wrong. Following one or more of the aforementioned steps may be all you need to create "real" change. What is needed may be a completely different approach to the solution-not the problem (more on that later). Remember success is often achieved when we make small changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle rather than by making temporary accommodations to lofty aspirations.

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Tattiana Romo says...
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011
So I have learned a lot from my supervisor (a wise man) about goals and goal setting. One of my most important goals throughout my internship was to not use my credit cards like debit cards (I have/had a horrible spending habit) . So I broke it down and figured out when I mostly go on spending binges. It also helped that I had finals and less time to shop between class breaks. So I got the CC usage down to using them on "emergencies" (lol real serious emergencies not OMG the shoes are 75% off emergencies). Now my most important New Year resolution was not so much everyones goal of working out (which I must admit is always a goal) but to not waste money on things I dont need and using my debit card less. So far I have done great! I allow myself to spend if I know I have money and if it is something I need. I always made the excuse of shopping after seasons (to save moneyyyy) but really I was probably paying more since they were charged on CC's. So this year....drum roll please....I did not shop for Christmas clearance items!!! I dont know how I pulled through but it helped that I stayed home and went straight home after internship. This was tough!

I learned that its important to be AWARE of the times the problem gets worse and whats going on around that leads me to my binge and of course what can substitute it for the moment. So thanks wise man, I will SOMEDAY apply this to my exercise goal...SOMEDAY :)
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Randall Reitz says...
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011
PF, Thanks for this rubric. I plan to use it for our diabetes group's "New Year, New You" meeting on January 21. I've always been a goal maven, and now have a simple framework to present.

TR, 75% off shoes are my weakness also--like a mouthful of cotton candy.
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