The new year is a time of celebration and renewed hope, and with that often comes a set of new resolutions; sticking to those goals takes a bit of planning.
It's easy to make new year's resolutions, but can you keep them? Absolutely, says clinical psychologist Mark Crawford -- if you're smart with your planning and can handle setbacks.
Our first rule of thumb? Be specific. Don't just say, "I want to lose weight," or "I want to handle money better." Crawford says, "Those are too general. I think you have to be specific -- 'I want to lose ten pounds,' 'I want to save $2,000 this year.'" The more specific you are,the more likely you are to meet your goal.
Second, be realistic about what you can accomplish. It's very hard for people to lose 100 pounds in a year. Set out to do what is attainable. Also, try to make just one or two resolutions a year; more than that may be a recipe for failure.
Have a Plan
Next, you need a plan. If you want to slim down and get fit, you might set a goal of working out three days a week and decreasing portion sizes. "Things aren't going to change because you want them to," Crawford reminds us. "They're going to change because you're going to change behaviors."
You also need to have short term goals. In Crawford's opinion, "a year is too long; set a goal for a week, for two weeks at most. Then see how you're doing."
And the best glue to help resolutions stick may be resilience. "You have to expect a setback and get right back on track," Crawford says. "The goal is progress toward your goal, not perfection."
Finally, a healthy reminder: the new year is a good time to make those doctor's appointments you may have put off last year; they will help to ensure that your health stays in check.