Linda Lewis Griffith

How to keep your New Year’s resolutions

With a little effort, your New Year’s resolutions can last longer than that New Year’s Eve bottle of champagne.
With a little effort, your New Year’s resolutions can last longer than that New Year’s Eve bottle of champagne. TNS

We all know the drill come Jan. 1. We promise to do better in the next 12 months but somehow lose our resolve before Valentine’s Day rolls around.

Start 2016 right. Follow these strategies to make those resolutions stick:

▪ Give it some thought. Impulsivity is your enemy. Spend time reflecting what you think needs to change.

▪ Be realistic. Don’t make pie-in-the-sky goals that are impossible to reach. Consider smaller changes well within your grasp.

▪ Be specific. Decide exactly what success will look like for you.

▪ Write down your goals and post them where you’ll see them often. Putting pen to paper means you’re one step closer to achieving your goals. Seeing them often keeps your efforts on track.

▪ Picture success. You’re more apt to stick with your resolutions if you visualize what you want. For example, cut out photos of the Bahamas so you’ll keep funding that vacation account.

▪ Break goals into chunks. Consider the different steps that will lead you to success. Set each one as a mini-milestone that will mark your continual progress: “I’ll join a gym in January. During February, I’ll check out the various classes.”

▪ Rework your environment. Take a hard look at the behaviors or pitfalls that cause you problems. Don’t stash cookies in your desk drawer. Get rid of all the beer and wine in the fridge. Schedule events in the evening so you’re not home alone.

▪ Set a date. Don’t leave success to chance. You’re too likely to make excuses and eventually lose focus. Decide specifically when you’ll achieve your goal: “I’ll run a marathon on Labor Day.”

▪ Start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and resolutions start from square one, too. If you want to get in shape, begin by walking around the block. When that gets easier, increase your distance.

▪ Be consistent. Remember the tortoise and the hare? You’ll get further if you stay with the process than if you go in fits and starts. You’ll also develop new habits that will support progress along the way.

▪ Be upbeat. It’s easy to get discouraged. But negative thoughts will quickly derail you. Smile often. Listen to inspirational podcasts. Surround yourself with cheerful people.

▪ Enlist your friends and family. Like-minded, supportive people can join you along the way and make your progress fun. They can also hold you accountable. Tell everyone you know where you’re headed. They’ll root you on and celebrate your success.

▪ Manage stress. Too much stress signals that life is out of balance. It also increases the likelihood that you’ll resort to bad habits and sabotage your progress. Learn to say no. Delegate responsibilities. Allow enough time to take care of yourself.

▪ Analyze setbacks. Progress isn’t linear. Every journey has its ups and downs. Pay attention when things go downhill and see what needs to be tweaked. Sometimes a minor adjustment will jump-start your success.

Linda Lewis Griffith’s column is special to The Tribune. For information, visit www.lindalewisgriffith.com.

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