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Four Steps to Take Now for Successful New Year’s Resolutions

Winter is here. Christmas has come and gone. There’s one last event in the holiday season before we settle in for our long winter’s nap. 


New Year’s Eve is on its way. It’s the last party night of the old year. This is our blowout celebration that is finished with a kiss and a New Year’s Resolution. 


The tradition of the New Year’s Resolution has a long history. It dates back as far as over 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. According to History, at that time, a resolution was more of a promise.   


What is the difference, you might ask? A promise is when we declare something will be done. A resolution is about our mental state to get something done. 


These promises the ancient Babylonians made were about things like loyalty to the king or repaying debts. Their belief was that if they followed through on their promises, they would be favored by the gods. As an aside, they also wouldn’t be put in a dungeon or have their head lopped off for disloyalty. Pretty strong motivations, I’d say. 


Today’s New Year’s Resolutions seem to be more like wishes than anything else. We decide on something we’d like to change, but we don’t exactly have a plan in place or a great motivating reason to stay the course.   


We also don’t make our wishes public knowledge, so if we don’t go through with it, nobody is the wiser. It seems the resolve has been left out of our resolutions… 


I’m not against the New Year’s Resolution. In fact, I have a few of my own. Over the years I have learned to put some steps in place to better guarantee having a fortuitous outcome.  


 If you plan to set a New Year’s Resolution this year, here are those steps, four of them to be exact, so you can hopefully experience the best outcome for your resolutions.   


For the sake of making these steps easy to see in action, I’ll use the ever-popular resolution to lose weight. 


Step One:  Know Why You’re Doing It 


The first misstep in making New Year’s Resolutions is not having a significant reason for wanting to accomplish it.  


For example, you’ve just reveled in the overindulgence of Thanksgiving and Christmas. You’re feeling at least a little out of sorts, and your clothes are feeling on the snug side. You want to make a change that helps you feel better in your own skin again. It’s time to lose weight. 


This is a good place to start, but is how your clothing fits enough of a motivation to stick to your resolution? How clothes fit is a good notice that you are not where you want to be and that you are making progress.   


However, losing weight often requires you to make not so “fun” choices like what foods you’re better off not eating. You’ll be able to keep those foods out of your diet for a little while.  


Then you hit the weight goal or are at least feeling a little more comfortable in your clothes again. What will then motivate you to keep going with the changes that you’ve made?   


Making long-lasting change requires a strong “why.” A couple of ideas on what those “why’s” might be are that losing weight will improve a medical issue you have or it will give you more energy to keep up with your kids or grandkids. 


According to Chris Fretag of Get Healthy U, when Your “why” has an emotional meaning, you will feel more motivated to stay with your New Year’s Resolution. It can additionally get you back on track if you stray off the path. 


Step Two:  Break It Down into Smaller Steps 


Wanting to lose weight with your strong “why” has you off to a great start. The next issue is that weight loss is a very broad topic you can easily become lost in and give up. 


This New Year, you are going to begin your resolution differently by breaking it down into simpler steps. A possible way to start might be by identifying some eating habits that you can attribute to either increasing or keeping your weight the same. 


Then, identify one habit, just one, that you feel will be somewhat easy to stick with for a month. Get some successes under your belt.  


Some ideas are increasing your water intake from one glass a day to three glasses a day. Another may be cutting down on chips to one serving size twice a week.   


By creating small steps that you do over time, you will create multiple wins, regardless of what your New Year’s Resolution is. Those successes can help motivate you to keep going. 


Each time you succeed in completing a change for a month, take another step. Either further change that habit (4 glasses of water instead of 3) or start on a new one from your list while keeping the previous new habits going. 


Step Three:  Get Back on the Horse 


Stuff happens. We all have had times that we strayed from our New Year Resolution for one reason or another. Don’t let that moment defeat you. It is just a moment. 


You went to a party where all they served was food you’ve been staying away from, and you indulged. Okay, clean it up tomorrow. You didn’t fail, so don’t unpack and continue living in that choice.   


You have simply met an obstacle. Now that you’ve experienced it once, what can you do to help yourself do better in the future?   


In this instance, perhaps you can check what’s on the menu at a gathering to find out if it will work for you. Then, you have options of selecting specific foods out of those being offered, eating before you go, or bringing your own food to help you stick with your resolution. 


Another thing you can do when you have one of those missteps with your resolution is show yourself a little compassion. Be as understanding and supportive of yourself as you are with friends and family. 


Step Four:  Get a Partner 


It’s easy to get out of a thing that nobody else knows about. Let’s face facts: if we could make a New Year’s Resolution stick on our own, we’d have been well done with it by now. 


Many of us need someone to know what we’re up to to stick with it. It’s been ingrained in us since childhood. We have always had to answer to someone, parents, teachers, bosses… 


Without accountability to someone, we seem to veer off and back into our old behaviors. If you struggle to get things done without having someone to answer to, then get someone to answer to. They are called an accountability partner. 


Don’t just go and pick anyone. There are some very important details that are necessary for this to work.   


Your accountability partner should be someone you respect, cares for you, isn’t afraid of offending you, and shares your values. Should you wander off your path, they’ll be there to call you on it and help you get headed back in the right direction. 


If you can put these steps in place: know your “why,” break it down into smaller steps, get back on track, and have an accountability partner, you will set yourself up for successfully accomplishing your New Year’s Resolution. 


Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and successful New Year! 

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