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Resolve to Keep Those New Year's Resolutions

Expert offers three key steps to achieving goals

SATURDAY, Dec. 30, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Keeping a New Year's resolution may depend on following three simple steps, says Dr. Bernard Davidson, a family psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia Health System.

Here are the steps:

  • Be committed. You must think through what you want to change and commit yourself to the long-term process it usually takes to achieve change. You then need to come up with a realistic plan to help you reach your goals, Davidson said in a statement. For example, if you want to shed some pounds, create a weight-loss schedule and an achievable diet and exercise plan. If your family and friends are supportive, tell them about your goals. They can provide encouragement and reinforce your commitment to change. If necessary, seek professional help to assist you.
  • Be prepared for setbacks. Don't think of them as complete failures, don't dwell on them, and don't let them make you give up your goals. After a setback, try to get back on track to reach your objective. Plan ahead on how you'll deal with setbacks. For example, if you do have a cigarette when you're trying to quit, your plan may include calling a supportive friend to talk about it. Or you may want to review all the reasons you listed for wanting to stop smoking and why reaching that goal will make you happy.
  • Track your progress. Motivate yourself by celebrating your successes and by getting positive feedback from supportive family and friends. A good approach is to evaluate yourself every week or two weeks. However, don't over-monitor yourself by doing a self-assessment every day. That's just likely to end in frustration. Don't compare yourself to others. Accomplish your goal in a way that's best suited to you.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about New Year's resolutions.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia Health System, news release, December 2006
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