Dr Bev Smallwood

Keep Your New Year's Resolutions...For a Change

The stats are dismal. Only 20 percent of New Year's resolutions are kept. By now, if you are like me, you've spent way too much time in the company of the 80 percent. Maybe you've even given up on making resolutions.

It doesn't have to be this way. Read on...

Arresting the Top Five Resolution Robbers

1. Hopelessness from past failures

OK, so you've struggled in the past. You've made the same resolution over and over, without long-term success. What's the use, right? Wrong! If you expect to fail, you will surely generate the results you expect.

Don't give up! Rather than using your other failures as a stimulus for hopelessness, analyze them to learn what to do differently this time. What were the situations in which you told yourself, "Just this one time won't hurt?" Were you stressed? Busy? Tired? In conflict?

Know your own relapse triggers and don't be caught off guard by them. Make a realistic plan for you to deal with them...WITHOUT resorting to a fall back into your old patterns.

2. Unreasonable goals

"I'll lose 50 pounds before my high school reunion in three months." "I know I drink too much. I'm going to quit on my own. I don't need any help." "I'm going to exercise every single day."

These examples highlight three ways to sabotage your success by setting unreasonable goals. Let's take them in order.

A. Unreasonable time frame for results. Sure, now that you've decided to change, you're ready for big results...now! But it doesn't really work that way. Set your sights on reasonable improvements this month, then raise the far a little next month. These will add up over time. You'll avoid the disappointment that leads to disaster.

B. Failure to recognize what it takes. Most of the habits that earn a place on our resolution list have been with us a while. They are significant enough to warrant some serious attention. Now is not the time for denial about what it really takes to make improvements, particularly if you are addressing an addictive behavior. Be willing to get professional help, join a support group, or get a coach.

C. Impractical schedule. Face it. If you haven't been exercising regularly, for example, the chances of doing it every single day are slim (unlike you will be if your goal isn't reasonable). Make a plan that takes into acount other important commitments, while still making the time to incorporate your new habit, a step at a time.

3. Lack of realistic preparation

"Preparation" is a critical stage in successful change, according to reputable research. (To learn more about the stages of successful change, read the free article entitled "Six Stages of Habit Change" at my website, www.MagneticWorkplaces.com .) Think through what it will take. Practice any new skills you will need. Enlist support from those around you. Rearrange your schedule, setting priorities on your time. The old adage is true: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Overdependence On Will Power

The sheer force of will is usually insufficient for lasting change. It's not just determining "I will" or "I won't." You have to determine the "how."

Further, some think that will power is either something you have or you don't. Not so. We all have the ability to choose to do something we REALLY want to do. (I can hear you arguing, "I've really wanted to do this, but have failed over and over again.")

Here's food for thought. At the moment you "fell off the wagon," there was something else you wanted more at that moment, and that something else was probably much less valuable in the long run than accomplishing your goal. When you're tempted to go astray, ask yourself, "Which do I want more...(my goal) or (whatever short-term pleasure or distraction is competing). Make the right choices in these critical decision moments, and you'll make it this time.

Perfectionist Thinking

Fact: You are not going to do it perfectly, no matter how detailed your plan or strong your commitment. Expect some setbacks. Don't delay getting back on your program. Do it immediately, not "next Monday" or some other well-worn target time. Analyze the setback so that you don't repeat the same choice in a similar situation.

No, you're not going to do it perfectly...but you will do it. And you'll love your results if you just don't give up It's going to be a great New Year!

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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