Set self up for resolution success

January 03, 2003|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Nearly all of us have had the experience of making New Year's resolutions. Many of us have also had the experience of failing to follow through on our good intentions. When this happens, it's easy to become discouraged and to write off New Year's resolutions as a painful exercise in futility that undermines our sense of confidence and hope.

If you are one of those brave souls who, despite less-than-ideal results in the past, likes the idea of starting the new year by making heartfelt resolutions, three cheers for you! If you refuse to give up, and if you remain open to learning and stay flexible, you will achieve your goals. Remember, where there's a will, there's a way. In any major challenge, the key to success lies in persistence.

If you've tried to reach a worthwhile goal in past years and haven't yet succeeded, refuse to be discouraged. Know that success is within your reach. Light up your face with a smile, and keep on giving it your best.


Here are a few tips for effective New Year's resolutions:

  • Don't make too many resolutions at one time. In fact, it's best to focus on a single goal. And make sure it's a goal that you really, really want to accomplish.

  • Break your goal down into small, manageable steps. That way you can begin making modest progress toward your goal right away, starting today.

  • Tell important people in your life about your goal and ask them to help you succeed in following through on your resolution. The more public your goal and the more key people you have pulling for you, the greater your chances of success. Only involve those individuals whom you know will truly support and encourage you.

  • Make creative use of reminders - little prompts to help you stay focused on achieving your resolution, be it notes on the bathroom mirror, a symbol of your goal displayed on the refrigerator door or a loose-fitting rubber band on your finger.

  • Say "no" to negative thinking the instant it crops up. Don't think the second negative thought. Choose instead to dwell on thoughts of happiness and success.

  • Affirm to yourself a key positive phrase such as: "I know that within me is the wisdom and strength to succeed. Whatever I set my mind to, I can accomplish." Say it with conviction and optimism, again and again. Be sure to find or create a positive thought that feels right for you.

  • Regularly visualize yourself achieving your goal. Let your imagination see these pictures of success in three-dimensional living color. Use all your senses to feel the reality of your success. Picture yourself in motion, as if on a videotape rather than in a still snapshot.

  • If you are spiritually inclined, use prayer to invoke assistance, strengthen your faith and imprint your inner vision of success.

  • Finally, remember that you're in this thing for the long haul. Don't expect to slip up, but be prepared for temporary failure in case it happens. If you do slip up, as soon as you can, get back up and try again. And don't waste time mentally beating yourself up - not even for a second. Never for a moment identify yourself with temporary flashes of error. Know that you have been blessed with the power to succeed in your noble resolutions. Persistence is the mother of success. Always try once more.

No stranger to difficulties and setbacks, Abraham Lincoln, one of history's truly great success stories, offers important words of wisdom and encouragement: "You can have anything you want - if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish, if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose."

Lynn F. Little is extension educator for Family & Consumer Sciences with Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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