Resolve to have a healthier year

December 2012

Jogging is good for the body

By John Nemick

Achieving your New Year's resolutions can make you feel better about yourself and improve your health. They might even lengthen your life. But it’s not always easy to keep your resolutions.

Why? It’s not because you don’t want to lose weight, volunteer more, or learn something new. You might just need a different approach.

Six steps to smarter goals

Believing you can achieve your goals is a big part of the work involved.

First, decide what’s most important. Choose goals that you're serious about. Ask, "Am I really excited about this goal? Am I committed to achieving it?" If you hesitate, think again. If you're unwilling to let go of a habit, don't set yourself up for failure by making it a resolution. You have to be ready to make the change you want to see. Avoid setting too many goals. Focus on the ones (or just one!) most important to you.

Next, create a plan. Write your goals down. List what you expect to achieve and a time frame. The goal should be realistic. Set a pace that's right for you. Break down longer-term goals into smaller parts. Celebrate successes along the way. If you need professional support, you may have access to an employee assistance program, work-life services, or a wellness program.

The third step is “think positive.” Attitudes are habits of thinking. Believing you can achieve your goals is a big part of the work involved. Having a sense of humor is important too. Humor will help if you encounter some roadblocks on your path to success.

Next, gather support. Think about your circle of family, friends, and coworkers. Who can you trust and rely on? Pick someone who will encourage and motivate you. A good choice is someone who has achieved a goal similar to yours.

Step number five: Be nice to yourself! What you think or say influences your success. Positive self-talk means statements like, "I made progress today," "I am doing my best," or "I'm still okay, no matter what." Write these words down, post them in view, and practice them often.

Lastly, focus on your progress. Some resolutions fail because you value perfection over progress. Small steps add up to significant leaps over time, so keep going.

Next year, you'll be ready to set, and accomplish, a new set of goals.

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