It’s Never Too Late to Start Over

Now that 2013 isn’t such a new year, are your resolutions fading? Don’t give up. Instead, follow these tips for success:

Plan Ahead January 1 is just a date. If you’re committed, you can start over anytime. Consider how strong your commitment is, and use that insight to create a plan.

Make Goals Attainable The best strategies are realistic, specific and build on short-term goals. Make attainable resolutions–otherwise it’s a set-up for disappointment. For example, pledging to exercise 60 minutes daily without factoring in work and family responsibilities isn’t practical if you’re new to exercise. But planning 30 minutes of physical activity for three times a week is realistic, specific and something to build on.

Map a Detailed Plan A detailed plan sheet helps you anticipate challenges and ways to get around them. So if you smoke after you eat, substitute something healthy to distract from the habit you want to break. For instance, call a friend for support or take up an activity you’ll enjoy.

Remind Yourself Write down the resolution and post it where you will see every day–preferably a spot you pass in the morning. Keep focused with a pro and con list; build on it as you progress from one short-term goal to another.

Tell Everyone Tell family and friends about your goals for encouragement–and to get some extra eyes on your progress. Once you share your resolution, you are more likely to keep it. You can even promise friends $10 if they see you break the resolution.

Track Your Progress Record every successful step on the way to a goal on your plan sheet. People who consistently link their daily tasks to their larger objective enjoy more success. Remind yourself about the “big picture” of what you are working toward rather than isolating each step. Share successes with your support network to add motivation.

Stick with It It takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit, and six months for it to feel like a permanent change. Make small changes and practice them until they become automatic. Go as slowly as you need to accomplish one thing, reinforcing it as a habit before advancing to another small step. A new habit becomes second nature when you stick with it. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip, but do practice damage control by returning to your plan as fast as possible. Enjoy a healthy reward for reaching small goals–it reinforces success and keeps you motivated.

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