How to Make and Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s January. Time to ring in the New Year. And you have, without a doubt, made a ton of resolutions that for once you vow to finally keep. Yes, we all want to lose weight, eat more vegetables, get fit, drink water instead of white wine, hold fewer grudges, manage our stress, sleep better and help the planet go greener. Well, I don’t know about you, but the first of my best goals and good intentions seem to be forgotten faster than annoying old acquaintances. That means about one minute past midnight this January 1st.

Of course, having to make big changes right at the heart of both the party and vacation season makes it even more difficult. And it’s also the time when we erroneously imagine that the arrival of a new year will somehow magically provide us the wherewithal to reinvent ourselves. It won’t. It takes work. But don’t attempt to change your entire life or lifestyle in one fell swoop. Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure by making huge resolutions that are so unreal, they are bound to fail, throwing us into a tailspin and causing us to just give up before ever seeing them realized.

Philip Galanes, who writes the “Social Q’s” advice column for The New York Times once gave me a quote I will never forget as it sums up the way we all feel about New Year’s resolutions: “I’ve been giving up bread for approximately 15 years now—along with processed white sugar, dairy and red meat (other than liver, which would eliminate pâté and, as a result, would be unimaginable),” he told me “And these are just the dietary components of my annual New Year’s resolutions. There are also work resolutions and relationship resolutions, and of course, the most common and popular resolution of all: the resolve to exercise more frequently and rigorously, thereby leading to the loss of thousands of pounds of collective body weight. It goes without saying that I haven’t kept any of these resolutions for longer than a month. (And even that’s probably an exaggeration.)”

But can any of us make those resolutions really stick?

So this New Year, resolve to start fresh and finally get things right by utilizing every tool given to you. Know that you have the power to thrive, succeed, and become the individual you desire in 2018—without ever having to totally give up Moon Pies. Here are 9 more tools from my Ladder to a Better Quality of Life to make your New Year Better Than Before from a collection of interviews I have conducted over the past year:

Doctor’s Orders

Think small, be flexible. Lasting change results from many small changes over time. And it is just as important to reward yourself when you take these small steps as well as when you take the big ones” Anticipate that life will throw you curveballs and be flexible enough not to let them knock you out of the game, Remove the ‘shoulds,’ ‘musts,’ and ‘have to’s’ from your vocabulary–they do nothing but add pressure.

Emotional Health

Be realistic—and specific. Instead of telling yourself, I am going to lose weight and be healthy next year, it is better to say, I will lose five pounds by February 15 by walking for 20 minutes three days a week and no longer drinking soda. The more specific, measurable, and attainable a goal is, the more likely it can be reached.

Nutrition

Eat your vegetables. Eat more salads, bright-colored, aboveground vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, squash, avocado, eggplant, and barley greens), organic, free-range eggs, super berries (cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries), organic chicken, turkey, and grass-fed beef and lamb. Limit fried food, pork, shellfish, farm-raised fish, hydrogenated oil found in commercially prepared baked goods, margarines, snacks, and processed foods, soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices, chips, sweet drinks, snacks and desserts.

Fitness

Walk don’t run. Unfortunately, some of the biggest failures in our New Year’s resolutions are found in the fitness department. We all vow to join a gym, take a Kettle Bell or Spin class at lunch, swim laps, go for a long run with the dog, or hop on the at-home bike. It’s admirable to want to do all of the above, but it’s best to keep it simple: Just resolve to include one physical activity you love in your day to get your blood flowing and exercise your muscles, heart and lungs. This can be as easy as briskly walking around the block or the mall. As you progress and you’re successful with the first change, you can make another one after a month or so. Increase your fitness level by walking a little farther or alternate your walk by jogging short bursts in between. If you do decide to go to a gym, have a one-hour consultation with an on-staff trainer who will assess your fitness level and work out a personalized exercise program. Promising to get in shape by not making unreasonable fitness goals will be one resolution that is very possible to keep.

Beauty

Glisten up. While you are making your resolutions, think about the beauty aspects in your life as well — both inner and outer. Setting realistic beauty goals are as important as those for your health. Fill yourself up with warmth and share that glow with others. Gaze into the morning sun, and let the rays shine into your eyes. That sunshine will help you look and act radiant. Even when you don’t feel particularly pretty that day, put yourself together so you look pretty. And soon you’ll start feeling pretty, too. Have a manicure; it’s always uplifting to get compliments on how soft your hands are or how nice your nails look. Have your hair colored and styled; dark roots are depressing. When you leave your house, even just putting on lipstick will make you feel more beautiful.

Natural Remedies

Envision success. When you paint a crystal-clear mental picture of how you would like your life to be, you have taken the first step toward getting there. Write out your goals in a loving way that reframes them into present time, such as, “I love my slim, supple body that supports me in every way.” Or “every cell in my body is radiating good health.”

Support

Multitask. Don’t try to make changes in your life alone. Gather supportive people around you, such as family and friends. We all need motivation and encouragement when the going gets tough and we feel like giving up. Break your New Year’s resolution down into small achievable steps and go for one step at a time. Share your goals with your support network and make the journey together. You will find the strength you need to keep going when you feel discouraged and enjoy celebrating your successes and build closer relationships on the way.”

Spirituality

Forgive and forget. In reviewing your spirituality, or lack thereof, in 2018, you may also want to think about who in your life hurt you physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually and decide what you want to do about the residual feelings. Have you been able to forgive these people or do you ruminate on your feelings of betrayal, anger, hurt or loss? When we hate someone, they own us because every day our energy is depleted by this negative emotion.

Giving Back

It’s easy being green. This New Year, resolve to help the planet. says John Cronin, senior fellow for Environmental Affairs at Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies. “There are two questions I am asked most often: ‘Can one person really make a difference?’ and ‘How?’ The answer to the first is easy: Yes! It is the story of human history — but those who never try to make a difference never do.” Cronin poses a creative challenge: “Look to your own life to find that something special you can make happen. For example, one mechanic adds a dollar to the bill of each of his car repair customers as a donation to the Riverkeeper organization. Over the past 20 years he has directed thousands of dollars to the group, and his customers are delighted. Help your child’s school find environmental experts to speak to classes. Here’s a simple one: Share a fascinating fact, and your friends will spread the information too —how much of the water on our planet is available for drinking? (Answer: Less than 1%). I promise they will be amazed, educated and eager to tell someone else. The point is that in addition to the how-to’s of proper individual behavior, which after 42 Earth Days should be common knowledge by now, there are creative acts you can perform, invent and organize that will change the world right in your own backyard if you are bold enough to try. Jump right in. The planet is waiting.”

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