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The Secret To Keeping Your Resolutions Alive


Man watches fireworks display.
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The world hasn't ended and the New Year has arrived. Time to start thinking about or setting a hard plan to tackle those pesky resolutions. Setting goals is a good thing. They can also be a nagging itch, which is why many of us never get to the bottom of the list. There are ways to defy the odds and complete what you started.

Making resolutions is the easy part. We look at what is or isn't working now and what we want to work in the future. Keeping the momentum going after we've made our resolutions, however, is a lot of work!

According to an article in Positive Psychology News, 30% of New Year's hopefuls will drop their resolutions by mid-January. Psychology professor Emily vanSonnenberg says only 12% of people make it until the end. The culprit to New Year's failure is change.

To check off the boxes next to our resolutions, positive change must happen in our lives—big change. Most of us have spent a lot of time rolling around in old habits. Changing them often brings a hell storm of reactions, emotionally, psychologically and physically.

Recall the old devil versus angel on your shoulder cliché. When we decide to make big changes in our lives the little red devilish voice gets gutsy. He started yelling excuses in our ears that distract us from achieving what he says is the impossible, as if no one ever succeeded in a goal of coming out to one friend or asking a guy out on a date.

The little devil is a cunning adversary to new goals and will often induce physical reactions to change. Ever start feeling nauseous before you get to the gym? More than likely you don't need to rest, you need to squash the little voice hovering over you.

Unfortunately the odds aren't in your favor and less so for women.

vanSonnenberg says that "men achieved their goal 22 percent more often when they engaged in goal-setting techniques or focused on the rewards associated with achieving their goals. Women were 10 percent more successful when they made their goals public, derived support from their friends, and were encouraged to persist in the face of setbacks."

Where does that leave you on the path to a new you?

Menshealth.com breaks down the science of keeping your New Year's goals. They interviewed GoalGuru.com's Jill Koenig. Here's what she suggested:
  1. Go Big or Go Home!
    Koenig says "the easiest way to stick to your resolution is to make your goal something you can work toward the entire year." She says set a big yearly goal and break it down into smaller monthly goals. I prefer to work in the opposite way by setting small monthly goals and increasing the goal each month until I achieve the big whammy. That way, when things get tough I can lean on the smaller accomplishments that lead to the overall goal.

  2. Make It a Group Effort!
    Who's holding you accountable, asks Koenig? Grab a partner with similar goals. Make sure he or she is as serious as you are and hold each other accountable. Be careful, though. The influence of friends can affect our plans. If they stay on goal they might be encouraging. If they fall off they might encourage you to do the same.

  3. Get started now!
    "You cannot wait for motivation to strike to begin your resolution," says Koenig. She's correct. Motivation will not just happen because you bought a new calendar. Writing down your goals and committing to them no matter how large or small is key to achieving them.

  4. Love It or Leave It!
    Last, Menshealth.com says, make a resolution that you won't mind keeping. Strive for a goal you'll love. That way you'll stay motivated. Celebrate small incremental achievements and, above all else, keep focused and you'll defy statistics and the devil on your shoulder.
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