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New Year's Resolutions - It's that time again

What is your track record with New Year’s resolutions? If you are like most people, it has been difficult to make lasting progress with most resolutions.

What if 2013 were different? What if you could take steps to maximize the chances that you will be successful this time? Now is a good time to be thinking about your resolutions for 2013, so let’s start by thinking about why each resolution is important to you.

First, make sure that you aren’t aiming too high. How many resolutions do you have? If you want to be successful, especially with resolutions that are difficult for you, it might make sense to limit yourself to one resolution – or to one resolution at a time. So, let’s assume that we are picking one resolution to focus on. Once you have been successful with this one, you can always pick another.

Now, why is this resolution important to you? Is it something you have come up with yourself? If someone else has a suggested it (perhaps a doctor, spouse, or friend), have you been able to internalize it so that it now feels like it is your goal? You are likely to be more successful if you feel absolutely clear about the ways that being successful with this resolution will improve your life. The clearer this is, the easier it will be to move forward. For example, can you imagine what it will feel like to have achieved this goal?

Some people feel that framing the goal as a positive goal (e.g., I want to be a better listener) is more effective than a negative goal (e.g., I want to stop interrupting so often). However, some research suggests that some people may respond better to negative goals than to positive ones. So, try a positive version and a negative version and see which one feels more motivating to you.

If you haven’t already thought about how this goal fits with your values, this would be a good time to think about your values and how this resolution might support your values. For example, if you are thinking about making a resolution to play with your children more often in 2013 and one of your core values is to be a  good parent, it would be helpful to look at how your resolution links to your value of being a good parent.

In early January, we’ll look at how worries and fears that we are unaware of can get in the way of New Year’s resolutions. After that, we’ll look at why it is so difficult to establish new habits, even after we have chosen the appropriate goal and gotten the major obstacles out of the way, and what we can do about it.