Sticking to your New Year resolutions

With two weeks already into the new year many of us have already given up on our new year resolutions. That can be a good thing, though! If we examine WHY we gave up so easily we can find the old pattern, unconscious of course, and we can begin to change whatever it is that is keeping us stuck.

If we really want to change, self-exploration is the key to successful growth. Like some sci-fi alien adventure, we confront the beast inside by admitting our shortcomings and beginning the battle of dominance over that which controls us. The trick is to tame the beast rather than beating it into fearful submission. Otherwise, we may have a vengeful retaliation in the form of a binge that destroys all our efforts.

Shortcomings are not bad. You don't have to become as holey as a block of swiss cheese if you delete them from your life. They are just a matter of perspective. For example, someone who procrastinates knows that faster is not always better or more efficient. They take time to think things through. Find your shortcomings and you will also find your best assets. It's all in how you use them and allow them to unfold for the greater good.

If you aren't sure exactly what the opposite of your shortcoming is, keep a journal and write down all the things that you did each day that made you feel good about yourself and all the things you did that made you feel yucky. This helps you delve deeper into your self-awareness, develops a more mature attitude and provides a greater chance of success of sticking with your resolution.

Many of us react instead of act. If something or someone triggers a reaction in you, you can learn to act rather than react by silently screaming STOP just before you say or do anything. Think about the situation from all angles and then choose whether it is appropriate to act at that moment. This is lesson #1 in Anger Management courses, but it can also be used when overcoming old habits or shortcomings.

Motivation is also a key factor in successfully overcoming your shortcomings. This can be resolved by writing a list of things you have accomplished in your life already. Instead of dwelling on all the times you tried to quit smoking and couldn't, keep a success list of all the things, big and small, that you do or have done and succeeded. For example, yesterday I wrote 1000 words on my novel in two hours. They may not be perfect, but they are on paper and that's what counts. I succeeded in doing what I wanted to do. We tend to think if we don't succeed, what's the point in trying again? But, this success list gives us hope that we can do whatever we set our mind to.

Proper focus is also key to motivating yourself to success. You need to know exactly what it is you want. If you have a lack of focus and don't really know what you want, do you really want anything? You should write a to do list with a very specific goal in mind. It should look something like this:

Goal: Do homework for 2 hours every day without distraction for an A grade
Step 1: Buy notebook for writing down assignments and a timer.
Step 2 Tell friends and family I'm unavailable every night between 7-9. Shut off phone.
Step 3: Call for tutor appointment for help with difficult assignments.
Step 4: Make sure work space is clean and tidy.
Step 5: Turn off TV and avoid online social networks until assignments are completed.

The key is moving an intangible desire toward concrete, measurable steps. This motivational tool gives you distinct focus and direction to accomplish whatever it is you choose to change. Be very careful of trying to over-achieve, though. For example, don't say you're going to lose 20 pounds in two weeks. Keep it realistic and don't set yourself up for failure. This method of self-sabotage does a lot of irrevocable damage to thousands of people every year. So, just keep it simple. A more realistic goal would be to say you'll lose 10 pounds per month for the next five months.

The most important thing about changing old habits or shortcomings, however, is developing the right attitude. If changing something about yourself makes you feel a lot of resentment or anger coated with all sorts of fear, then it will not work. The best way to success is to believe you can do it, no matter what, and enjoy the challenge that knowledge presents to your old way of thinking. Attitude is everything to enjoying a happy, joyous life.

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