The New Year has begun, and it gives us all an opportunity to start over. This is the time of year many people set New Year's Resolutions, but by Friday have already broken them. There are a couple things everyone can do so their resolutions or goals are more likely to last throughout the year, rather than end in less than a week.
One way to make resolutions last longer is to write them down. If you are only thinking about a goal you want to meet, you have not made a lasting commitment. By writing it down, you are more committed to meeting the goal you have written. It is important to make the goal realistic. Losing 50 pounds in 30 days is not realistic. You are not likely to meet a goal if you make it too difficult to achieve. Losing 50 pounds in a year is more realistic. You should also break large goals into smaller goals, for instance, losing 5 pounds a month for 10 months.
It is important to track the progress of your goals. You can do this by making a chart and posting it in a place you see daily. Maybe posting your goal to eat healthier on your refrigerator so you see it every time you are in the kitchen. For a goal like eating healthier, you will need to define what eating healthier means to you. Does it mean eating more vegetables, eating leaner meats or eating organic foods. If eating healthier means eating more vegetables, you can use stickers or put a mark on a calendar you post on the refrigerator for the number of vegetables you eat each day. By tracking your progress, you can see if you are meeting, exceeding or missing the goals you set. It allows you to make changes on a regular basis to meet your goal by the end of the year.
Telling someone about the goal you set is another way of making sure that you meet your goal by the end of the year. If your goal is to exercise more, tell a friend or family member. They can help you meet your goal by asking you to go out for a walk, ski or snowshoe with them. Maybe for your birthday, your partner will get you new snowshoes or a gym membership. We are all more committed to goals when we know someone else is helping us be accountable.
Finally, make sure and reward yourself when you meet a milestone. If you goal is to lose five pounds a month, reward yourself by going to a movie, buying a new book or buying new workout clothes when you meet your monthly goal. These little rewards will keep you on track to meet your bigger goal by year's end. You will look forward to meeting your monthly goals and getting a small reward. You can also determine a larger reward if you meet your annual goal or resolution.
Good luck! Hope by December 2012 you have achieved at least one of your 2012 resolutions!
Editor's note: Taryn Mack is director of the Copper Country Mental Health Institute.