Breaking Bad [Habits] and Keeping Resolutions

This time of year I find myself actually looking forward to the end of the holiday season — going nearly a month without my normal routine starts to drive me nuts. And yes, like most Americans I find myself making note of changes I’d like to make over the coming year — in other words, I make some New Year’s resolutions.

Setting resolutions is one thing — keeping them is quite another; nearly half of all those who make resolutions are unsuccessful in keeping them. In order to maintain momentum in keeping our New Year’s goals, it’s important to remember that there is an art to resolution creation. Two critical steps are necessary to insure success: setting our resolutions and keeping them.

The Art of Setting Resolutions for the Year

If we’re not careful about how we word our resolutions, we can be defeated before we even begin. Here are some suggestions from the experts to help get you started:

  • Be specific. “I’m going to lose weight this year,” specify how much weight you want to lose. Rather than telling yourself your going to exercise more in the coming year, try setting a specific number of days per week you want to shoot for.
  • Set goals that will improve your quality of life or your family’s by considering how to best incorporate your values into your New Year’s goals
  • Be realistic. Unrealistic expectations, according Dr. Allan Schwartz of can lead us through “endless cycles of defeat.”
  • Don’t set too many resolutions all at once. To keep myself from doing this, I actually set resolutions twice a year — once at the beginning of January, and then again at the start of the school year the following fall —

Game Plan for Staying On Track

Setting resolutions is the easy part — sticking with it over the long haul is where it can get a little tough – but again there are some good strategies to help maintain focus:

  • Break down your goal as much as possible.  Think sub-steps. If you’ve decided you’re going to learn Spanish this year, break down the process into manageable tasks, such as “take an adult education class,” or “order Rosetta Stone.”
  • Expect lapses and setbacks. We’re human beings, not robots, and we make mistakes
  • Find some support. Some people seek therapy for some of the larger issues they struggle with.  Nothing wrong with that — in fact, if one of your goals is to, say, cut back on your drinking, it might help to have a therapist help you discover what’s driving you to over imbibe


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