To New Beginnings

It’s that time of year again. Christmas has passed, decorations are coming down, gifts have been opened and family memories have been shared. The time when we reflect and in some cases, agonize over, the past years events. Moments that stamped twenty eleven, like the chain of earthquakes that decimated the Japanese Coast or the death of Osama Bin Laden, are reminders of how tumultuous times can be.

The general focus now shifts to the New Year and the abundance of opportunities it presents. And with every New Year, millions of Americans set goals they would like to accomplish during the years’ time; known as New Year Resolutions.

Here are the resolutions that pop up year after year for Americans (not in any particular order):

  1. Drink Less Alcohol
  2. Get Better Education
  3. Get a Better Job
  4. Lose Weight
  5. Manage Debt
  6. Manage Stress
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  9. Save Money
  10. Take a Vacation
  11. Volunteer to Help Others
  12. Eat Healthier Foods
  13. Get Fit

I guarantee you or someone you know has hopped on board, and committed to achieve one of the above resolutions. Can you remember how long your last resolution lasted? Did you make it past January? Approximately 25 percent will fail just one week in to the new year, and 88 percent will find their resolutions to be but a lone memory by the time the ball drops to bring in twenty thirteen.

Widely publicized statistics such as these may lead you to believe that efforts to keep up with a resolution is futile. For many, resolutions have become more of a joke than the adamant declaration it should be. Contrary to this ever-growing sentiment, I think New Year’s resolutions are imperative to our sense of purpose, personal growth, and self-esteem. When we make resolutions we are taking charge of our lives and setting the bar for positive change. Although many fail, simply making a resolution that’s set in stone opens the door for the possibility of success.

There are simple tricks to making New Year’s Resolutions work for you. First, you must be willing to make the resolution (I know it sounds like rocket science). You have to be motivated enough to take the step of professing your goals for the New Year. After you’ve mustered up the courage to embark on the journey, there are a few additional helpful hints that will turn your resolution into an achievement.

  • Lose the Generality

General goals are hard to accomplish, and what makes it difficult is the lack of detail. If you have obscure goals, they are hard to measure, making it hard to determine success. Set goals that have numbers, dates, and key milestones that will allow you to continually gage your progress against your goal. Be specific!

(i.e. Good: Lose 2 pounds/month for a total of 24 pounds by 2013)

  • Create Resolutions that Fit You

NO bandwagon resolutions! It won’t benefit you to make resolutions that are the same as your friends/colleagues, and the resolutions that you run across in the media don’t always line up with the life you live. Tailor resolutions to you and your current situation. Put serious thought into your resolutions to find commitments that will create positive impact on your life.

“Secret Resolutions = Broken Resolutions.” Making your resolutions known and public, allows for others to hold you accountable. I’m not saying you have to post it on Facebook or Twitter. You should tell the ones close to you who you trust; the ones who aren’t afraid to be honest with you about your progress. It helps considerably to have a support system that can propel you to accomplish your goals.

  • Stretch (but don’t overextend)

Don’t hesitate to set goals that are just outside of your comfort zone. Stay away from overextending yourself in efforts of making a statement or outdoing someone else. Carefully think about what is attainable and then reach for slightly more than that. This will allow you to enjoy the ride, and not kill yourself in the process (SN: Make sure that you are being honest with yourself. Don’t take this as an opportunity to make easy resolutions. The key is still to push yourself).

  • Track Your Progress

Don’t forget about the progress that you are making during the year. It is wise to make a chart or some sort of document where you can display your milestones. The overall goal can seem unattainable at times, but when broken down into small pieces you will be surprised at what can be achieved (utilize the resources found here and here to help with the process).

  • Make Room

Lastly, make sure that you carve out space in your busy life for your resolutions. If you want to be amongst the 12 percent that succeed, you need make a concerted effort and make your resolution a priority. This may mean waking up early to run, or going to bed earlier and missing that TV show. You may have to change your diet or change up the people that you hang around (lose the dead weight: bad influences, peer pressure). It’s not easy, but when you take the necessary steps to make your resolution easier to accomplish, you will succeed.

Now is your chance. It’s a new year and a fresh start! What is something that resonates with you and makes you desire change for the better? Take this opportunity and make 2012 your best year yet!

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