6 Tricks To Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick!

It happens every year, right at the stroke of midnight. As the ball is dropping we all vow to live a better life in the coming year. These New Year's resolutions are easy to make and, sadly, easy to break. There are some strategies that can help to make these resolutions outlast the bubbles in the champagne.

Most of us make the same resolutions each year: lose weight, get in shape, drink less alcohol, eat better, save money, help the disadvantaged, maybe visit someplace new. Study after study shows that we all pretty much have the same resolutions year after year. If you're a smoker, you can add quitting to that list. Health clubs love the boost in membership sales that occur every January. Especially because they know from experience that most of their new members won't use their facilities beyond January.

Given the clear personal benefit of most New Year's resolutions, what can be done to make them come true? Just wishing for better discipline won't make it happen. Psychologists have a few suggestions that can help your resolutions become reality.

1. First, be sure that your resolution really matters to you. If you aren't excited about it, you won't be disappointed when it drops away. Focus on the "why" rather than the" how" of your resolution. The benefit of achieving your resolution must be substantial and desirable so that your efforts toward its realization can be justified.

2. Your resolution must be small enough to be achievable. I would love to drop 30 pounds, but that's probably never going to happen. If a resolution is clearly outrageous in the cold light of day following the New Year's Eve bash, there is no chance that you will make any real progress toward it.

3. To keep yourself motivated, you should make your resolution divisible into "success chunks". Celebrate each intermediate achievement. If resolving to lose weight, set a goal of losing 2 pounds a month. That builds success and momentum that will increase your motivation as the journey gets more difficult.

4. Regardless of your goal, it should be measurable. That way inevitable backsliding can be countered with data. It is easy to get discouraged. To counter that, having some facts like, "I lost 3 pounds last month, so this 1 pound gain isn't so bad" can really help. No resolution of any magnitude can be accomplished without a few setbacks. The important thing is to shrug off the setback and continue forward toward your goal. Having some measurable proof of success can be a real resolution saver.

5. Change your environment to change your behavior. Studies have shown that many of our habits and behaviors are triggered by our surroundings. If we have always smoked in that breezeway between the office buildings, maybe avoiding that breezeway can help us stop smoking. If we typically eat a bag of potato chips in that recliner after works, perhaps we should stay away from that recliner a while. Anything that we can do to break the cycle of bad habits is a good thing, so think about the environment where you exhibit your bad behavior and come up with a new environment for your new, improved behavior. You may be surprised how effective this simple strategy can be.

6. Make peer pressure work for you. No matter what personal change we're trying to effect, it is hard to keep going on our own. Bring in your family and friends to support you. Their encouragement can make the difference when the going gets tough. Find a workout buddy to meet you at the gym, for example. You may become one of the few January members that actually use the gym in February. Don't have a workout buddy? Wow, that's easy to correct now that WannaBuddy.com is around. Don't struggle alone. Bring in some positive peer pressure so that you can celebrate your milestone victories with others and lean on them during the rough spots.

So review your New Year's eve resolutions. Pick the one that gets you really excited, break it down into achievable chunks, measure your progress, celebrate with a buddy and make 2012 your best year yet!

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