The amazingly simple psychology of successful New Year’s resolutions

(BPT) – The arrival of cold weather and Valentine’s day aren’t the only predictions you can reliably make about February each year. It’s a pretty safe bet that many resolutions passionately adopted in January will be broken by the end of February – if not sooner. New Year’s resolution success, however, is possible, and the first step in the right direction is to change your mindset.

“New Year’s resolutions can be a good opportunity to start healthier habits and personal improvement projects,” says Dr. Jim Wasner, program dean at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University | Schaumburg. Think of resolutions as a reminder of the larger goals and plans you have for your life. These life changes should be planned carefully with both long-range dreams and desires and short-term actions on how to get there. Just because you have difficulty in achieving a short-term objective doesn’t mean you have to give up your aspirations. You may just need to revise your actions and fine tune your solutions,”

Here are some suggestions to consider when making New Year’s resolutions:

* Make fewer resolutions. Too many promises to make drastic life changes can be overwhelming. A shorter list will feel more manageable.

* Keep resolutions realistic and achievable.

* Seek support from family and friends, and ask them to provide gentle reminders and constant encouragement to help you keep the resolution.

* Create a plan that starts slow, eases you into a routine, and tracks progress with attainable benchmarks.

* Give yourself a break if you succumb to temptation now and then, but resolve to get back on track right away.

* Don’t turn your resolution into a competition and avoid comparing your progress to others’. Instead, view others’ accomplishments as inspiration.

“Life changes are an important part of our development as mature adults,” Wasner says. “Resolutions are a fun way to remind us that change is an important part of who we are as humans. Use them as an impetus to fine tune your plans and not as a weight to be shouldered.”

Finally, Wasner cautions, don’t get discouraged if it takes more than one try to succeed. “New Year’s resolutions are not a short run but more like a marathon where you must pace yourself to reach success,” he says.

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