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2007 ó A Year for Real Solutions

A resolution is described as a decree, a promise or a resolve. Resolutions, as we all know, are popular during the onset of a new year.

We all start out with the best intentions to make our lives better by changing something about ourselves that we think needs to be changed.

How successful are we at sticking to our resolve? Statistics show that more than half of us will have given up on our commitment after six months. Some 54 percent will have abandoned their resolve by July.

So, what should a reasonable person do to make a positive change in their lives? Some encouraging news is that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who donít.

The key seems to be a little something called an action plan. I believe itís the action plan that takes us from a resolution to a real solution.

If weíre honest, we all have things weíd like to change about ourselves. And, we all have ways we think would work best to accomplish those changes.

Some will say the higher you set your goal, the more you achieve, even if you donít meet your objective. This appears to work well for certain personality types. I practiced this for a long time myself but every time I fell short, I couldnít help but feel a little like a failure and I donít welcome setting myself up for failure anymore. Instead, I set goals that I am fairly confident I can achieve. Sometimes, I surprise myself and do much more than I planned to do. My confidence soars when this happens instead of getting knocked down a notch.

Though Iím no expert on accomplishing a goal, here are some tips that have worked for me and you may find them useful for accomplishing real solutions in 2007:

1. Identify what you want to change and make sure the change would be to your benefit. If someone else wants you to make a change, you may want to examine his or her motives, and still ask yourself if the change would be to your benefit before deciding to take it on.

2. Make your goal realistic. Hopefully, you know yourself as well as anybody. What works for everybody else, may not work for you. So, envision yourself accomplishing your goal the way you would accomplish it before you set out to do it. Make sure you give yourself a realistic timeframe to achieve your vision and listen to yourself. If youíre trying to run a marathon this year and you injure your knee, you may want to spend this year rehabilitating your knee, so youíll be ready to run the marathon next year.

3. Built-in rewards are a key to success. If along your journey of change, you hit a mile-marker you hadnít expected to hit so quickly, reward yourself with something you enjoy. Know what makes you happy and use hitting or exceeding your target as an excuse to pursue and indulge in something that makes you happy. By the same token, if you hit an unexpected barrier, take time to figure out how youíre going to overcome it. When you do, celebrate that.

4. Know that youíre going to have set backs. Plan for these, because as all of us beyond the age of three have learned, human behavior is truly one of the hardest things there is to change. Itís OK to get down, just donít stay there.

5. Have a support system in place so that when you do get down, you have someone close by to help pick you up. If that person(s) has accomplished what youíre trying to accomplish, thatís even better. They can tell you how they got out of their slumps. Make sure you surround yourself with people who tell you that you can accomplish your goals.

6. Besides ensuring you have enough time to accomplish your goals, make sure itís the right time. If you are facing a crisis, this may not be the best time to try to quit smoking, unless that crisis involves an illness directly related to your smoking.

7. Donít feel you have to make your change complete right away. Itís a fantasy anymore to be able to shut out all distractions and immerse yourself in a favorite project. In college, I was able to do this. As an adult with a full-time job, I realize that was a luxury. Life happens in frames. Think of your goal as an extra large pie. Even though you may want to sit down and eat the whole thing at once, it would probably make you sick. It may make you emotionally sick to try to make your change quickly, only to find itís going to take a lot more time than you ever realized. Celebrate the small successes along the way. For example, if your goal is to reorganize your whole house this year, you may want to celebrate just getting a small closet organized or some drawers or your kitchen pantry. See No. 3.

8. Make sure you will have the resources to achieve your vision. For example, if you want to learn about investing in the stock market this year, make sure you have enough money with which to invest. You may want to look at ways to reduce debt and free up some money or look into getting a second or higher-paying job. This prep work can take place anytime.

9. Itís never too early to get started. Do at least one thing to get yourself prepared to achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, itís never too early to start researching options available to help you accomplish this (Weight Watchers, L.A. Weight Loss, investing in a Pilates video, joining a gym).

10. Knock out your excuses. Donít tell yourself you canít do something until somebody else does something for you to make it possible. For example, donít tell yourself, ďI canít learn how to invest more money until my boss gives me a raise.Ē Empower yourself; donít give your power away. Instead of saying you canít do something, ask yourself, ďHow can I do this?Ē then start finding your answer. It really is true what they say, where thereís a will (especially a strong one), there is always a way! Find your way!

You can create real solutions any time. Thereís no need to wait until January of any year to make a positive change in your life. Any time is a good time as long as you have the resources, time, support system and personal willpower you need to achieve, you will!

Stefanie Hoglund is an employee of the Knox County Health Department and holds a masterís degree in health education from The University of Tennessee.


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