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Rediscovering Wellness: New Year, New Beginnings

With every change of the calender year comes new year’s resolutions.

What is your new year’s resolution? Have you thought of one yet or are you the type that does away with them because you find them hard to follow.

As most of us know, these promises are generally goals someone sets out to accomplish in the coming year. Perhaps you want to implement something new into your regime or kick an old or bad habit to the curb.

Ask yourself – “Do I usually stick to my resolutions?” To put it bluntly, not many of us do, and that’s okay, because maybe we’re not picking the right goals for ourselves. In fact, according to recent research,  only 12 percent achieved their goals. A separate study done by Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol in England showed that 78 percent of those who set new year's resolutions failed, and those who succeeded had many common traits.

Men achieved their goals more often when they engaged in a goal setting system where measurable goals were being set. Women succeeded more when they shared their goals with others in order to gain support and were held accountable.

Often times we choose a resolution such as “I want to lose weight” or “I am going to start exercising” . Then within weeks, we find we haven’t started on any type of diet regime because of post-holiday parties or a change in schedule or we haven’t started exercising because we can’t find the time or maybe you did actually start a diet regime or implemented exercise but find it hard to stick to so you stop altogether. Then what happens is we start to feel deflated, sad and guilty: how dare we break our own vows to ourselves, our promises for the new year!

Who says then you have to wait for the “next” new year to implement a resolution again?

A resolution is simply a goal, a plan, a commitment or as I like to call it a “vow”. I vow to myself that I will ....... To me, “vow” is a powerful word. Perhaps you can use the word “oath” or “pledge”. Whatever word you find will instill more power and control for you to stick to your resolutions – go for it. Play with it.

Thanks to a book I recently read "Resolutions That Work", by Serge Prengel, I’m going to share with you just a few tips I got out of it for myself on how to choose - and stick to - resolutions for 2012 and beyond.

Put your sights on a specific goal. You first have to direct your energy towards it, seriously commit to whatever that goal is. The more specific and realistic your goal is, the better. For instance, instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to exercise more” commit to throwing away and avoiding all processed foods or eat more vegetables in place of other unhealthier options. Maybe write down which meal you will change and be consistent. With exercise, either invest yourself at a gym or allot yourself three nights a week to fill that space with exercise, even if it’s a half an hour, or whatever you find easier to follow. Maybe it’s a lunchtime walk. Be realistic. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Keep track of your progress. Part of making a resolution work is about tracking your progress. This way you can see day in and day out, whether or not you are on track. If you go off track one day, acknowledge it, be okay with it and instead of giving up, get back on track the next day. Take the “Tomorrow is a new day” approach. Tracking progress is an opportunity for you to clarify your goals as you go along, what’s working, what’s not working. You might even have to go back to your first step and re-write your regime that you find is working better. For instance, two days at the gym and the newly found yoga class at work once a week will be your new workout, as long as your sticking to achieving the results you want. By the way, don’t feel bad or resistant to track your goals in fear that you are not accomplishing them. This is just your way to take corrective action when you’re not and allowing yourself to take pleasure and reward yourself when you are reaching them.

Be open to what happens. We can often get very narrow minded when setting goals for ourselves by looking at everything in black and white terms such as “we succeeded” or “we failed”. Whether this is a truthful statement or not, it’s also dangerous. This is how we start to judge ourselves and very negatively. We start to berate ourselves and almost punish ourselves emotionally for “failing”. If this does happen, rewire your brain and look at it as a “lesson learned”. Question yourself - “what just happened?”…”why couldn’t I follow through?” … “what can I do next time to ensure I can achieve my goals?” Look at “failure” as a way to reassess your goals. Another thing we so often do is implement goals for ourselves that we think we “should” do but not necessarily “want” to do. This could very well set us up to get bored with them, not have fun with them, therefore not achieve them. When I relate to "should” I’m speaking in terms of societal values, these are unnecessary burdens. If it’s a “should” that we know we “should” do to get healthier, such as stop smoking, we also need to want and be ready. Again, it’s all about being realistic. Choose a goal you are truly ready for in order to implement change.

One last note to remember, that when trying to reach for goals we often have to make changes in our daily lives. In making these changes, we often encounter obstacles with that. Look at these obstacles as growth, personal growth. Personal growth just helps you get even closer to clarifying your goals and achieving those that are truly good for you.

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and cheers to “new beginnings”!

Dana Pettit Canneto, Holistic Health Coach, AADP

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