Keeping your goals

HOUGHTON – Depending on which list is viewed, lifestyle issues are in the top 10 of New Year’s resolutions, and they include losing weight, getting more exercise and quitting smoking.

Although many people make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, the trick is keeping up the effort to make those resolutions a reality, and Cynthia Drake thinks she has a system to help people reach those goals.

Drake, who owns Openings Life Coaching, said for a resolution to be successfully carried out, the person wanting to make a change has to be strongly committed.

“It has to be a burning desire,” she said.

The desire to change has to be personal, and not come from another person urging the change to be made.

“You have to know what it is you want,” she said.

Keeping focus on the desired change and keeping negative thoughts out of one’s head are absolutely essential for success, Drake said.

When success is achieved early on in a person’s effort to change, more successes will follow, Drake said.

“It just sort of snowballs for them,” she said.

To keep success going, Drake said it’s important for a person to be around family and friends who will be encouraging and supportive, and to avoid people who may be negative.

“Your peers could be the problem,” she said.

One of the more popular New Year’s resolutions is quitting smoking, and Arnie Kinnunen, health educator with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, said for many people, success with that effort requires focus.

“You need to develop a quit plan,” he said.

Kinnunen said setting a quit date a week or two ahead is a good idea to help keep focus, rather than setting a date months ahead.

“You don’t want to go too far out,” he said.

Setting the next day as a quit date is too soon and unreasonable, also, Kinnunen said.

Success in quitting will involve the cooperation of the smoker’s family and friends, Kinnunen said. If a person is surrounded by people who make negative comments or aren’t supportive of the smoker’s efforts, that can contribute to failure of the effort.

There are many things which can cause someone trying to quit smoking to light up, and Kinnunen said those things need to be determined and avoided.

“You can identify triggers (which may lead to smoking),” he said.

Kinnunen said it’s a good idea for people trying to quit smoking to involve a doctor.

“It’s been shown they are more successful (with quitting),” he said.

Doctors may prescribe what are called nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches and drugs, which are useful.

“They can help people quit,” he said.

Whatever a New Year’s resolution may be, whether it’s stopping smoking, exercising, eating better, or improving relationships with family, friends and coworkers, the American Psychiatric Association has some tips, which may prove beneficial: “Don’t make too many resolutions. Pick a realistic, attainable goal with a reasonable time frame; Make a plan and write it down. Plan what you’d like to accomplish in a certain period of time, like three months. Achieving small goals over time gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going. Writing your goals down is a good way to keep track of your progress; Involve friends and family. They can support your efforts, and can motivate you to keep going; If you get off track, forgive yourself. Review your plan and make adjustments; and congratulate yourself. Reward yourself when your intermediate goals or resolutions are met.”

Drake said she suggests her clients create what she calls a windshield, which contains images representative of what they want to achieve.

“It ignites your subconscious mind,” she said.