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How To Make Lasting Resolutions

Updated: Jan 9, 2018

Want to decrease clutter or achieve a healthier weight? Pick one resolution for the New Year and stick to it. Avoid guilt by keeping your resolutions.

The beginning of the year is the most popular time to make resolutions. We all see things about ourselves and our lives that we would like to work on and improve. For example, we might want to make changes to the way we look or about our health. Perhaps we have had a stressful year and we would like to reduce sources of stress and drama from our lives. Maybe we’d like to eliminate character flaws, expand our memory, or spend more time with loved ones.

No one is perfect. It’s good to notice ways in which we improve ourselves, and to make resolutions. It’s even better when our resolutions last, and become a permanent part of our lives. To make a resolution last, we have to truly want to change. Then we actually have to get up and make the change.

A New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be made on a whim if we want it to last. It should be something that’s important to us. Here are some suggestions to get us thinking in the right direction.

  • Get more fresh air. Simply being outside can often lower stress levels, boost the immune system, and increase the amount of oxygen the brain receives.

  • Lose weight. Many people gain weight over the holidays through festive eating and being off their normal schedule. By returning to a regular routine, and setting weight goals, people can often get to a healthier weight.

  • Spend more time with loved ones. When someone, who is near the end of their life, is asked what they wish they had done differently, they rarely mention that they wish they had spent more time working. Usually they share that they regret not spending more time with family members and close friends.

  • Reduce clutter. In today’s fast-paced society, few people seem to find the time to stay organized. Unless we make a deliberate effort, our homes and lives can become overrun with unnecessary items and useless clutter.

  • Spend more time reading. Reading can be enjoyable and relaxing. Reading is also a gateway to knowledge, and thereby an important component to success.

  • Develop a wellness health plan. Some people spend more time designing a new home, or picking out a new vehicle than they spend developing a wellness plan and taking steps to protect their health. We can sell a house and trade in a car, but we can’t exchange our body for a new one.

  • Spend less time on the couch / computer chair. Because more of us are spending time seated at work and then find ourselves sitting so much at home, it’s important to change some habits so that we’re on our feet a bit more.

  • Eat more fruits and veggies. No vitamin or supplement in this world can take the place of natural fruits and vegetables. Our bodies feel better and function more efficiently when we incorporate healthy foods into our diet.

  • Reduce unnecessary drama. Dealing with constant drama can increase stress levels, distract us, and lower our productivity.

  • Stretch daily. Creating a daily stretch routine can benefit your body in many ways. Stretching is known to release tension, improve posture, and reduce muscle fatigue and injury.

To turn a resolution into a goal, we must write it down and then put down a number next to it to make it quantifiable. This number can be a date to accomplish the goal by, or it can be a number of times per day / week / month that we want to do this activity. For example, if a resolution is lose 10 pounds, we could write down a specific date goal: lose 10 pounds by April 1. If a goal is to read more, we could write down: read 20 minutes before bed 5 times a week.

The goal must also be realistic and attainable. Setting a goal to wake up at 5 am every day to go to the gym might be an unrealistic goal. Setting a goal to look like a Hollywood model may be unattainable. Modify the goals to become achievable. For example we could write down a more realistic goal: Work out three times a week, or reduce percentage of body fat by 1% by May 15.

When we set an unrealistic goal and then fall short, it can lead to feelings of guilt and discouragement. It’s much better to set a series of small goals that are easier for us to achieve. If our goal is to reduce the amount of clutter in our lives we might set the following goals:

  • Buy 3 small baskets or organizers for my home computer desk by January 10.

  • Clean and organize my home computer desk by January 20.

  • Buy 3 small baskets or organizers for my desk at work by February 1.

  • Clean and organize my desk at work by February 10.

  • Go through my kitchen pantry and remove expired and unwanted containers of food by February 20.

  • Re-tidy my home desk and my office desk by March 1.

  • Buy 3 baskets or closet organizers by March 10.

  • Clean and organize my bedroom closet by March 20.

  • Donate all clothing that I no longer wear by April 1.

If instead, our goal is to lose weight, we might set the following health related goals:

  • Walk for 20 minutes every day

  • Lose 1 pound each week

  • Eat 3 fruits or vegetables each day

  • Lose 5 pounds by Valentine’s Day

  • Continue to lose one pound each week

  • Achieve losing 10 pounds by April 1

When we accomplish these small goals, we begin to feel better about ourselves. Then we can set additional goals that are specific to our lives and our situations.

It’s fine to share your goal with a close and trustworthy friend who can be of encouragement. However, letting a large number of people know about a personal goal can sometimes backfire. It can be unwise to share personal goals on social media or with the entire office staff, because that can become too much pressure, and lead to discouragement when a goal isn’t achieved. When a goal is missed, simply reset the goal. This will make it possible to still achieve the goal, even if it’s a week or a month later than originally desired.

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