5 Tips for Achieving Your New Year's Resolutions

Whether or not you are a fan of New Year's Resolutions, you probably do have some goals you would like to achieve in 2014. Not everyone thinks that following a certain date on a calendar will lead to success, but there will be millions of people using January 1st as a day to kick-start some changes. Regardless of whether tomorrow is your starting date or if something like April 11th suits your fancy, here are 5 tips that will help you plan and achieve your goals.

1. Be honest. If you don't abide by this rule, the next four won't matter. The mistake many people make is using someone else's resolutions. It doesn't matter if your neighbor wants to quit smoking and asks you to join him. It isn't important that your co-worker wants to drink less soda if you really like your daily fix. It isn't helpful if your spouse wants you to lose those 10 pounds but you think you look and feel good enough. Be honest about whether a resolution is important to you, and not something you are doing to make someone else happy.

2. Make a list of WHY your resolutions are important. Most advice revolves around setting specific, smart goals. You know the drill: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound. What people usually forget is to write down why their goals are important to them. If you have something measurable written down, but then fail to meet the measurement you wanted, you can get discouraged and want to throw in the towel. But if you have a list of why your goal is important to you, it will encourage you not to give up.

3. Plan for failure. By this, I don't mean failure in the big sense. I mean the little setbacks that will make you feel like you're failing. If your resolution is to exercise 3 days a week, but you are busy, under the weather or work extra hours one week and only get in 2 workouts, you might feel like you have failed. That doesn't mean you should give up, though. Sometimes life happens. Big changes doesn't take place overnight. You will have setbacks. That's a fact. So anticipate them, and have plans in reserve for how you will overcome them if they seem to happen more often than not.

4. Plan ahead. Once the newness and excitement about your resolution wears off — and it will — you need things that will help motivate you to keep going. When I started running a few years ago, I signed up for a 5k and half marathon a couple of months later. But I was afraid I wouldn't be very motivated to keep going after reaching such a big goal. So I signed up for another half marathon four months after the first. I paid my entry fee and hung the receipt up right above my desk. Investing the money in a second big race kept me motivated to go on even after I had achieved my goal, which was simply to complete one half marathon. Now I've been running ever since and have completed dozens of races.

5. Be accountable. While you shouldn't use another person's resolutions as the basis for your own goals, you should find someone that will help hold you accountable to your own. It's important to pick someone you will see or talk to on a regular basis. This person also needs to understand why your goals are important to you, so he or she can remind you of those reasons if you start to falter. Don't choose someone who might want to sabotage your efforts. We've all been there. If you want to eat less sweets, don't ask a friend who eats donuts for breakfast, candy bars as an afternoon snack, and ends the night with a bowl of ice cream. It's a sad part of human nature that your success could make some people feel bad about their own choices and they will try to lure you back into your old habits. 

There you have it. Five tips to help you achieve your 2014 New Year's Resolutions, whether your start them in January or July. If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments!





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