Great ways to stick to your New Years Resolution

By on January 10, 2014
Kaleidoscope

For those of you who make New Year’s Resolutions, you know that making one is easier than keeping one. And what do we resolve to do? We usually make plans that better our lives: exercising 7 times a week, eating only carrots on Tuesdays, going to every tutoring session. By the end of January or the beginning of February, you’re back to being the same sad slob you were last year, only with a few fewer realized goals. Contrary to what you might think; making a goal is an art. Hopefully, the following 3 step plan helps make that art into a science.

Step one: The Plan

Start off by setting goals low enough to be feasible but high enough so that you feel accomplished by the end. You may choose to simply do something you can already do, but improved or for a sustained period of time. I can run about a half mile before I feel like giving up on life, so I might make it a goal to run a half mile twice a week. That’s not so hard, is it? You may even want to set a goal that isn’t necessarily a “timed” activity. I may set my goal at being able to run a full mile before the end of the year. That way, if it takes me all year or only until April, challenge accepted and challenge demolished. At the end of 2014, I will have reached my attainable goal.

Basically, don’t set yourself up for failure! Set yourself up for success with reasonable, realistic goals.

Step Two: The Follow-through

OK, this is hard part. In theory, every plan is fantastic. In practice, you may feel the need to quit. Squash that feeling. The “I can’t do it” feeling goes hand in hand with all the other worst, least productive feelings on the planet. You can do it! You can do anything you put your mind to! Take it one step at a time. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed or anxious about what it is you’ve set out to do. If ever you feel like it’s just too much and you’ll never get it done and life is over and help me Oprah Winfrey. Stop. Take a moment to tell yourself that it can be done (because it can be) and do, in that moment, what you can do. When you take steps to reach a goal, most apprehension of attaining that goal fades away. You may also want to find a “cheerleader.” Do not go bother one of the UAB cheerleaders or a Golden Girl. I mean that you need a support system. Find people, friends (real, imaginary, or internet based) and family, to encourage you as you go.

You may also want to find people who share common interests with yourself. If your goal is to eat more veggies, make friends with a vegetarian. If you want to make an A in that class, be a part of a study group. Being a part of a group serves a dual purpose, it gets you some friends and helps you take steps to reaching your goal. After all, there is strength in numbers.

Step Three: The Reward

Congratulations! You’ve accomplished your goal! Maybe you wanted to make a 4.0 this semester, maybe you wanted to cutback on WOW’s Brownie Sundaes. What now? Reward yourself for a job well done! Do something that tells yourself that you are proud of you. By doing this, you are reinforcing your own actions in a positive manner, meaning that, in the future, you are more likely to repeat similar behavior.

Rewards can, obviously, act as a motivator. Knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel can help you reach your goal. While you go to the gym or deny yourself that soda, you might remind yourself that at the end of it, you get a big, fat, something fantastic.
Are you more likely to work for a lollipop or a smack in the face? Right, give yourself a lollipop.
Remember, little changes can make big differences.

Edie Godwin
Contributor
edie@uab.edu

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