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Resolutions can be kept

As the Christmas holiday has come and gone, many will begin to place the focus on the New Year. And with that, most will make at least one resolution as we embark on 2016. There are always those seemingly obligatory resolutions made each year, and some of those include dieting and losing weight, quit smoking, increased time with family, save more money and travel more.

However, in many cases, for many of us those can follow the quote many use when winter begins to turn to spring “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Most New Year’s resolutions start with vigor and receive a good part of our attention. Unfortunately, as our lives continue and the busy schedules kick back in, that salad can be replaced with a trip through the drive-thru. Or, a trip to the gym is replaced with a late meeting.

All too often, we slowly start to see those resolutions fade, but for many those goals were doomed from the start. It could be a myriad of things that cause this, but with any other goals we set from a personal or professional standpoint, it needs to have a plan and provide some direction on how to get where an individual or group wants to be. Just like a sports team preparing for a big game, a game plan is one of the most crucial aspects for success. The same is certainly true for New Year’s resolutions.

Below are some tips from the American Psychological Association (APA) at their website www.apa.org:

Start small – Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment.

Change one behavior at a time – Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.

Talk about it – Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating.

Don’t beat yourself up – Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; Resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Ask for support – Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.

Each of these tips are things that are universal and can be used by everyone. Ultimately, to achieve our New Year’s resolutions, we need to understand that there will be ebbs and flows.