This year, stop the cycle of resolving to make change, but then not following through. Here are 10 tips to help get you started.
1. Be Realistic
The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make it unattainable. Strive for a goal that is within reach.
2. Plan Ahead
If it's too late to start January 1, just pick another date.
3. Outline Your Plan
Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or have one more cigarette. This could include calling on a friend for help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your bad habit affects the way you feel.
4. Make a "Pro" and "Con" List
It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.
5. Talk About It
Don't keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best case scenario is to find yourself a buddy who shares your New Year's resolution and motivate each other.
6. Reward Yourself
This doesn't mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to diet. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution. If you've been sticking to your promise to eat better, for example, perhaps your reward could be going to a movie with a friend.
7. Track Your Progress
Keep track of each small success you make toward reaching your larger goal. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, say, focus on losing that first 5. Keeping a food diary or a symptom journal may help you stay on track.
8. Don't Beat Yourself Up
Obsessing over the occasional slip won't help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take each day one at a time.
9. Stick To It
Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality. Your new healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.
10. Keep Trying
If your resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don't despair. Start over again! There's no reason you can't make a "New Year's resolution" any time of year.