Keeping Your New Years Resolution

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So the decorations have been put away, the returns have been taken back to the store, and the evergreen has been put on the curb. Now it’s time to get serious about those New Years resolutions. Statistics tell us that a little less than half of the American population makes resolutions, but unfortunately, only about twenty percent are successfully carried out. What can you do to put yourself among that victorious percentage? Here are some ideas to keep in mind to help you reach your goals.

Have a plan. Ben Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” Let’s say your goal is to be healthier in 2018. What does that mean, and how are you going to do it? Will it mean making a commitment to go to the gym three times a week? Then get that on your calendar. Will it mean bringing your lunch everyday instead of going out for fast food? Make a grocery list and only buy what is on that list. There are actually apps on your phone or computer that will help you make those plans and stick to them!

Tell others. You are more likely to reach a goal if you tell others about it. You can feel more accountable in keeping that resolution, and you will have cheerleaders to share your accomplishments.

Reward yourself along the way. Celebrate the milestones on your journey to success. So you resolved to lose 20 pounds? Don’t wait until you reach that goal to congratulate yourself. When you lose five or ten pounds, buy yourself a new outfit. You deserve it for all your hard work.

Forgive yourself. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on again. If you stumble, don’t give up. It takes 21 days for an new activity to become a habit. Don’t let a slip up sabotage your whole effort. See every meal as an opportunity to start a healthy diet instead if of thinking, “I had a donut for breakfast, I might as well give up for today.” If you’re trying to give up cigarettes and you give into a craving for a smoke, don’t beat yourself up. See each morning as a new cigarette free day.

Think of what you’ll gain rather than what you have to give up. We tend to put resolutions in a category of what we will have to deprive ourselves of rather than what we will gain. To quit smoking is to gain a lot of cash–and healthier lungs! To give up excessive spending is to gain financial freedom. You get the picture!

My own personal resolution is to learn to meditate. I have gotten a couple of books from the library to help me along and remind me why meditation is important and what benefits it can bring. I have set aside 15 minutes a day in a quiet room with no distractions. At first I was saying “Om” while making a grocery list in my head, but I am slowly gaining the discipline needed to successfully meditate. Some attempts are better than others, so I cut myself some slack. I am giving up 15 minutes a day, but gaining calmer peace of mind. And most importantly, I believe I can do it!

May you all have a wonderful 2018, and best wishes on being one of the twenty percent!

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Kathy Shepler
I was an English professor at The University of Akron, Ohio before retiring and moving to Charlotte last year. My undergraduate degree is in journalism and my masters in education. Along with writing for The Mint Hill Times, I tutor in English and do book editing. I live in Mint Hill with my husband and am involved in a number community activities.