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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

New Years Resolutions:
Friend or Foe?

How many times have you made New Years Resolutions – only to break them?

You’re in good company. According to a study done by Stephen Shapiro, president of Goalfree.com (www.stephenshaprio.com), only 8% of Americans say they achieve their New Years Resolutions. Another survey, conducted by motivational speaker Gail Kasper (www.gailkasper.com) shows us that only 9% of Americans are serious about achieving their goals; 51% don’t have New Years Resolutions, and of those that do, 79% don’t have a plan to achieve them.

 

Why do we do this to ourselves? Is there hope in New Year’s resolutions, or are we setting ourselves up for failure?

The primary motivation behind resolutions is the desire to change. We see something we’re doing that isn’t good for us – overeating, smoking, or drinking – and long to change it. We recognize that we aren’t doing something that we really want to – starting our own business, writing that novel, or finding a good relationship – and aspire to do something about it. So, we join the 49% of Americans who choose one month out of the year to focus on the things about our life we’d like to change, and resolve to take action.

But then we find that change takes time; it takes energy; and sometimes, it takes money. And some of us fail. Most of us. I’m thinking it might be time for a new approach.

It’s good to evaluate our lives. Positive change is good. Yet, if we pour all of our energy into making, or breaking, a handful of resolutions and then fail – it’s quite discouraging. Most people, when they fail at their initial try, give up completely on the resolution. “At least I tried, I just couldn’t do it,” they confess in defeat. However, the pressure of failure can be eliminated by taking the goal and making it a lifestyle change.

Goal setting is important. Those who set goals are more inclined to achieve them. Yet people often turn long-term goals into short-term goals and become discouraged too quickly if they don’t see great daily advances toward the goal. Lifestyle changes like healthy eating, a permanent relationship, or taking time to pursue our personal interests do not happen in just one month out of the whole year – it has to be a lifestyle change.

With a lifestyle change, we can overcome the failures along the way. Goals that are too rigid don’t allow for failure of any type. Let’s face it; we can’t always control what happens to us in life. And, one bad day doesn’t have to ruin our whole focus. We need the freedom to experience fresh starts in the midst of our goals: do-over’s.

For example, one person’s desired goal – lifestyle change – is to lose twenty pounds. Is losing that twenty pounds within a month a feasible plan? Maybe for some, but not for most. This goal-setter feels the pressure. Pressure creates stress, and what does stress do for an overeater? It makes them eat! Stressed out, the goal-setter overeats, loses sight of the goal, and in their mind – fails.

However, if the goal-setter chooses to focus on a long-term change, they can exercise a “fresh start” option. The overeater makes a choice to begin again. Face the failure, become aware of what needs to be done differently, and take the next tiny step. Start small and go forward again with the goal in sight. Steady changes are lasting changes.

Support is also important during a lifestyle change. Surround yourself with like-minded people when you are looking to make a permanent change. If you want to lose weight, hang out with people who are on diets; if you need to stop smoking – get around people who have successfully stopped and understand the journey; if you aspire to write, join a local writers group.

Here’s a few helpful links to get you started if you’re considering a lifestyle change for 2007:

» Smoking Cessation

» Lose Weight

» Alcohol Abuse

» Finances

» Writers Groups

» Relationships

As for me, I’m starting 2007 without pressure. My New Year’s resolution: No more broken New Year’s resolutions.



Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: JoAnnFore@msn.com. A Better You is published every Saturday.

 


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