Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to create feasible New Year's resolutions

Happy 2011!

Question:  With 2011 coming up, I want to start thinking about what my new year's resolutions will be.  Ever year I make a list, but by the time February or March rolls around, they are usually kicked to the curb.  Any advice on how to make some good resolutions?  (New York, NY)

Social Shrink:  Here is our advice - there's no point in making new year's resolutions if they are unattainable or are not possible in real life (i.e. I want to grow wings or I want to be invisible for a day).  We have developed a short list for you to think about as you begin to make your 2011 resolutions:
  1. Make goals that make you happy, not what makes others happy.  This is important for a number of reasons:  going to law school to make your parents happy is not a good resolution.  There's a reason why you pick up your LSAT book to study in January, and by the time February comes along it's collecting dust.  You're not doing it because it makes YOU happy. 
  2. List specific steps to attain your resolutions.  If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, don't just write "I want to lose 30 pounds."  Identify what steps you will need to go about losing the weight - go to the gym four times a week, run a mile each day, eat X, Y and Z, etc.  This will allow you to keep yourself accountable by referencing whether or not you are following these steps.
  3. As we mentioned, set reasonable, attainable goals.  It sucks when you know you didn't reach a certain goal, but perhaps it was because the goal wasn't realistic to begin with.  One extreme example is: "In 2011, I want to make $X dollars at my job."  First of all, if you set that bar too high, it may not be something you can attain in only one year, it may take five!  While it's important to set high goals, make sure you are taking into account that you are also human.
  4. Make these resolutions with someone else.  Nothing beats accountability like a significant other, close friend or family member.  When you make these resolutions with someone else, you can agree to hold each other accountable if one of you begins to slack off.  Meet just before the new year and share your goals, and then meet mid-year in June to see how each of you is progressing.  Or, meet even more than that to ensure you are both staying on track.
Nonetheless, start of 2011 with a positive, energetic perspective that anything is possible.  While you will undoubtedly have goals you will aspire to achieve, life also provides unexpected surprises along the way.  Embrace both on December 31st and toast to a great year ahead!

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