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6 Steps to Staying Focused on Your Resolutions

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Have you made New Year’s resolutions in the past? Maybe you vowed to start hitting the gym more often. Or perhaps you wanted to shed a little weight. Did those resolutions hold up?

If it didn’t go as planned, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A recent study showed that nearly 80 percent of resolutions crumble by the second month of the year! With such a high rate of failure, many people may feel down for not living up to their expectations.

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STEP 1: BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO CHANGE
Do you eat treats instead of meals? Watch hours of TV after dinner each night? Snack when you are stressed? What habits would you like to change? Be very specific about what you’d like to resolve when making a New Year’s resolution. Vague resolutions like, “I want to get in shape!” are tricky to measure.

STEP 2: SET REALISTIC GOALS THAT YOU KNOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE
Realistic goals—like changing the number of hours you watch TV—can help you succeed with your plans. Unrealistic goals like “I want to get in shape,” can set you up for failure. So set goals that you’re sure you can achieve, like eating a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and blueberries for the next 2 weeks or adding 10 minutes of physical activity to your day for a month.

STEP 3: FOCUS ON ONE SPECIFIC, REALISTIC GOAL AT A TIME
Start slowly and start small. Write your goal down and keep it in a place where you will see it often. Work your goal into your daily routine so that it becomes part of your life.

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STEP 4: BREAK BIG GOALS DOWN INTO SMALLER GOALS
If a long-term goal is to exercise for one hour a day, start smaller. Set a goal to start exercising 15 minutes every day. Then slowly increase this amount. Soon you will reach your long-term goal.

STEP 5: TRACK YOUR PROGRESS AND USE IT FOR ENCOURAGEMENT
Track your progress in a way that's easy for you. You might try a smartphone goal-tracking app or simply use a journal or notebook. Tracking your progress can:

  • Boost your motivation
  • Help you see how well you are moving toward a goal
  • Help you understand when it's time to set other goals
  • Remind you to reward yourself

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STEP 6: REWARD YOURSELF WHEN YOU SUCCEED
As you achieve goals along the way, remember to reward yourself. Of course, try to choose healthy rewards that will help support, or at least not undermine, what you’ve achieved. For example, you might treat yourself to a massage or a healthy dinner out. Take the time to appreciate the great work you’ve put in so far.

If things aren’t going quite as well as you hoped, give yourself some breathing room. Setbacks are common. In fact, they are likely to happen. So, don’t take a setback as failure. Instead, pause and reexamine your goals. You might just need to make a few changes to your plan and revisit it at a later time.

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of regular medical care or advice. Please check with your doctor before using this information or beginning any self-care program.