It's time for that annual ritual of making (and breaking) our New Year's resolutions. There is something about the idea of being able to start over that motivates us to pause (at least briefly) and reflect on our lives as they are, as well as how we would like them to be. Yet how many times have you thought back to last year's goals and found that many or most of them were abandoned or just forgotten after a few weeks or months into the year?
Many of us have difficulty following through on our resolutions due to factors such as choosing unrealistic goals, not making them challenging enough and/or lacking the necessary motivation to stick with them. The following tips should help put you on the right course and assist you in staying committed to your most important goals for 2003.
Start with a life vision
If you don't know what you want your future to look like, how can you decide what areas of your life need to be worked on? Spend some quiet time TODAY reflecting on (and writing down) what is good, bad or incomplete. Then try to "see" your life if all of these areas were addressed and had become satisfactory to you.
Clear away clutter. Go through paperwork, files, old bills and receipts, closets, drawers and storage containers. Decide what you need and will use and either throw out or give away all the rest. Put aside some time each week for this purpose. After you have cleaned out you can think about your existing systems for management and storage and see if these need reworking or just some fine-tuning. Keep ONE calendar to record all appointments, events, etc. Write down everything- don't rely on memory.
Expand your horizons and make a commitment to learning something new.
Challenging yourself will infuse you with greater energy and sense of purpose. It will help build your self-esteem to realize you really are capable of more than you had previously believed. This new learning can also give you additional resources to assist you in your career, personal or love life.
Set challenging but realistic resolutions
Choose goals that stretch your ability muscles, yet are realistic and therefore less vulnerable to failure. Don't respond to that negative inner voice that says; "oh, I'm not capable of that". Instead, focus on what you truly desire for your life and relationships and let this be your guide.
Write down your resolutions
Write them down and stick them on your bathroom mirror, your fridge, your car dashboard, your desk or wherever you know will be a good place for you to see them. You can also show them to a good friend, family member, your coach or anyone who could provide support and encouragement.
Create action steps for each resolution; write them down, and keep an accounting of your progress for each.
A resolution without planned action is doomed to failure. Break each goal down into small action steps or objectives. Putting a date for completion will help ensure you follow through. Come up with an accountability system that will work for you. Make sure you check off each accomplishment as you go and be flexible and willing to make adjustments in your action steps in order to achieve your desired end results.
Take care of yourself; eat well. Exercise regularly and learn to control and eliminate unhealthy stress.
I know this is an obvious one, so why is it often ignored or overlooked when we are attempting to make important life changes? How many times have you said, "I don't have the time" to eat right, exercise, sleep adequately, etc? Not caring for yourself will guarantee failure. So, why not make this your first and most important resolution for 2003?
Work to eliminate bad habits
Including this as a New Year's resolution would put you on the road to good follow-through. Bad habits will sabotage your efforts and use up your limited resources of time, energy and focus. For each bad habit you decide to eliminate, have a good habit in mind to replace it with.
Set appropriate and healthy limits in all areas of your life
Knowing your limits and enforcing them with yourself and others is a prerequisite to a healthy life and relationship. Learn to say "no" and "enough" and be firm in your resolve that this is a good thing to do. Otherwise, you will also be undermining your resolution to take care of yourself.
Work to be the kind of person you want to be with
Bringing out the best qualities in yourself will help to ensure that you attract people of good quality into your life. You wouldn't want to compromise on the standards you have set for a potential mate. Therefore, it's important to understand that this also holds true for other people in search of relationships.
Now begin this year with the resolve to be the person you know you have the potential to be. You'll be pleased with the wonderful changes that await you!
Toni Coleman, MSW is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach with over 20 years of experience. As a recognized expert, Toni has been quoted in many local and national publications including: The Chicago Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel newspapers and Family Circle, Woman's Day, and Star magazines. She has been featured on ABC News; Discovery Health Channel and AOL Online. As a weekly contributing commentator on the KTRS Radio Morning Show, (St. Louis, MO), Toni offers dating tips and relationship advice in response to listener feedback. Toni founded Consum-mate.com in 2002 to offer singles the knowledge and tools they need to find and sustain healthy, lasting love relationships. She is a member of The International Coach Federation, and The International Association Of Coaches.