This year, be resolved

Published 12:59 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

It’s Jan. 2. Have you broken your New Year’s resolution yet?

If you didn’t set a realistic schedule and goals, and enlist the help of a partner, there’s a good chance you have.

While the start of a new year can be a great time to eliminate bad habits or create good ones, many people set themselves up to fail, because they set their goals too high, according to Philip R. Muskin, chair of the American Psychiatric Association Council on Psychosomatic Medicine.

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“A new year is a great time to think about the changes we want to make in our lives,” Muskin wrote recently. “Being and staying well is a resolution many people make for the New Year, but those resolutions can lead to frustration when we find we have set unrealistic goals. Making a resolution to change one thing that will make us healthier is a priceless gift that only we can give to ourselves.”

Some of the most common resolutions are focused either on physical or financial health, according to a U.S. government Web site. lists the 13 most popular New Year’s resolutions as lose weight, manage debt, save money, get a better job, get fit, eat right, get a better education, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, reduce stress overall, reduce stress at work, take a trip and volunteer to help others.

The American Psychiatric Association offers the following tips to help you succeed. In addition, if you’ve picked one of the 13 resolutions above, visit for detailed information on how to make the resolution work.

4Try again. Everyone has made — and broken — past resolutions, but that does not mean that you won’t succeed this time. Start with a positive approach, including thinking about what has disrupted your good intentions in the past. Don’t discourage yourself with a negative outlook.

4Don’t make too many resolutions. Trying to eat better, exercise more, quit smoking, and reduce stress is too much to tackle at once. Pick a realistic, attainable goal with a reasonable time frame.

4Choose your own resolution. Make sure this is something that you want to accomplish for yourself and not for friends or family. When you attain the goal, they will benefit from your success as well.

4Make a plan and write it down. Plan what you’d like to accomplish in three or six months. Achieving small goals over time gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going. Writing your goals down is a good way to keep track of your progress.

4Involve friends and family. They can support your efforts, and can motivate you to keep going. Setting a personal goal is not a “promise” that can never be broken. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by overstating what can be a realistic change you plan to make.

4Forgive yourself. If you get off track, don’t think that you failed. Review your plan and make adjustments.

4Congratulate yourself. Reward yourself when your intermediate goals or resolutions are met.

4The most important point to consider when deciding on your resolutions is to decide if you are truly willing to make the change in your life. Deciding to make the change just to have a resolution will not keep you motivated to attain your goal.

Many people fail, because they are afraid or don’t fully realize how the goal can benefit their everyday lives. When you decide on your resolution, make a plan of action and list the ways it will improve your life. When you can see the prize, you are more likely to keep up the fight.