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All too often during the time after Christmas we feel as if we are being stalked by the New Year approaching.  Time is flying by.  We look back and see that we didn’t accomplish that long list of resolutions we vowed to keep.  There just wasn’t enough time, money or energy.  By February, five had been broken.  By March, half of those that were left dried up to dust, only to be swept up and thrown in the trashcan.  By June, we had forgotten all but one or two.  Those, we actually worked on, or had reached.  Maybe.  By September, we were already thinking to ourselves what next year’s resolutions will be. Hmm…

Making changes are difficult at best, but some of our resolutions are borderline impossible.  Studies show that the top five resolutions made are:

1. Get fit

2.  Lose Weight

3. Quit _________ (fill in the blank for a bad habit)

4.  Spend more time with family

5. Get out of debt

 If we are really serious about these resolutions, or changes, then we need to make them a part of our everyday life.  We need a game plan.  We need daily reminders.  Here is a simple list of how you can keep your resolutions for the whole year, and maybe even make them good habits of daily living:

1. Avoid Overload – Nothing can help you lose momentum than overloading yourself.  Try trimming down your resolutions to the top three to five most important things on your list.  Then you won’t be quite so overwhelmed in trying to do it all.  You can also ‘trim the fat’ of all the unnecessary busyness in your life by determining what your true priorities are, and eliminating those things that are designed to keep you moving, but not getting you anywhere.

1. Baby Steps – Changes take time.  Trust me, by February you are not going to lose that fifty pounds, or pay off credit card debts that are in the five figures.  Each and every one of these things takes time and serious self-discipline.  Set goals accordingly.  Crash diets are not the way to go.  Losing one to three pounds a week is a much safer plan.  And you can do that just by making a few initial adjustments in your diet and exercise plan, then add a few as you go along.

2.  Daily Reminders – Most of us have calendars we refer to in order to keep our schedule somewhat organized.  If you are a member of gym, pencil in ‘Gym’ three days a week.  If you don’t, pencil in the word ‘exercise’.  If nothing else, schedule a thirty minute to one hour walk, at least three, preferably five times a week.  Doing these things will help you reach two of the goals at once – getting fit and losing weight.  If you are seriously overweight, do take the time and spend the money to speak with a Registered Dietitian.  They can help you in ways you can’t even imagine!

Another great way of giving yourself daily reminders is a chalkboard.  I love mine.  On it I write various inspirational quotes that fit my current situation.  They are daily reminders of who I am, what I want out of life, and encouragement to get things done and still stay true to myself. 

3.  Note to Self – My grocery list even has a note to myself at the top to keep my spending in check.  It says, ‘Do you REALLY need everything on this list?!?’  It gives me a chance to evaluate everything on it, and to determine if it is really necessary.  Making a list also helps to cut down on those impulse purchases.  I almost have to put blinders on the Country Boy when we get to the checkout counter and all that candy.  I also like to write notes to myself, reminding me of my goals.  A sticky note on my computer reminds me to carve out at least an hour a day (preferably more, if time allows) to write. 

4. Reward System – Each resolution needs a set of mini-goals.  If you want to lose thirty pounds this year, your first mini-goal would be ‘Lose five pounds in one month’.  Did you lose it?  Then celebrate!  At the end of each goal, write down a reward that you will present yourself with upon reaching it.  Make it fun but simple.  For me, it would be a couple skeins of yarn that I have been drooling over, or a new book.  When you have reached the half-way mark, up your reward just a little bit.  Theater or concert tickets for you and a friend.  A day off from your busy life with picnic and a good book.  Rewards don’t have to cost financially, but they do have to be a true incentive.  If necessary, keep a piggy bank where you add a dollar here, loose change there, to help finance these rewards.  If you are diligent about it, the money will add up fast!

5.  The Buddy System – Find a friend who also has resolutions that are important for them to keep.  Make daily phone calls, meet for coffee once a week or arrange an ‘emergency’ call system where you can each keep the other on track.  Having to be accountable to ourselves is easy to breech.  Having to be accountable to someone else makes breaking those resolutions a bit harder.

Don’t feel like you are being stalked by the New Year.  Instead, embrace the opportunity to make some much needed changes in your life.  Resolutions are easy to make, but don’t have to be hard to keep.  It just takes a day-by-day approach, and a heart and mind that is willing to achieve these goals.   

Got resolutions?  Need a buddy?  Post your resolutions in the comment section, and I will work diligently to check in with you to see how you are progressing!