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New Year's Resolutions?

By Ken and Lee Estridge

New Year's Resolutions?

Many of us develop a long list of New Year's resolutions and then struggle to move through the list. Often we underestimate how difficult it is to change our behaviors because we've been practicing them for many years. True change requires tremendous focus and a clear methodology.


For New Year's resolutions to succeed they must be SMART goals - Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. This translates into a goal that's clear, relevant, and worth working for because it really matters (to you). For example, a SMART goal for losing weight might be:

Lose 5 pounds by March 31, 2013. This goal is specific (lose 5 lbs), we can measure our success (weigh ourselves), it's attainable (5 lbs. is not as scary or difficult to lose as 50 lbs), it's relevant (we want to look and feel healthy), and it's time bound (March 31st is a real deadline).

Setting a SMART goal is step one in the process of successful behavioral change. As you'll see below, changing just a few behaviors at a time, adopting a methodology, and holding yourself accountable provide a context for your SMART goals to become part of your daily life.

Four Steps To Success

  1. Set SMART Goals
  2. Change one or two behaviors at a time
  3. Adopt a methodology for implementing change
  4. Be Accountable

Before setting a SMART goal, you need to be able to clearly articulate the problem or issue that you'd like to address. For example, "I don't feel attractive because I'm overweight and my clothes don't fit." (I ate too many desserts over the Holidays!)

Then identify one or two behaviors that are required to solve this problem, identify your methodology, and decide how you'll be accountable for your progress. Let's apply this approach to losing weight:

"I don't feel attractive because I'm overweight and my clothes don't fit," translates into the SMART goal of losing 5 lbs. by March 31, 2013. We can then break the goal down into measureable and attainable steps that requires two behavioral changes (exercise and food intake) and a specific methodology for supporting those changes:

"In order to lose 1/2 pound a week for the next10 weeks, I'llneed to burn an extra 1750 calories a week or consume 1750 fewer calories. I'll accomplish this by exercising at the gym for 30 minutes three days a week and I'll park my car 1/2 mile from my office so that I have to walk to and from work. I'll also eat a healthier diet by eliminating desserts, reducing my carb intake, and eating a high protein breakfast. I'll weigh in once a week, chart my progress, and identify obstacles that I know I will encounter such as craving sweets or not loving exercise. I'll tell myself that if skip sweets during the week,I can have one that I love on the weekend, and I'll find an exercise or sport that I really enjoy."

Your methodology ought to include rewards and celebrations-you've worked hard after all! For example:

"I'll celebrate along the way to my goal (every 1/2 lb), and will reward myself when I meet my goal of losing 5 lbs by buying myself a new piece of clothing."

Lastly, be sure to hold yourself accountable to someone else, and check in with that individual at least once a week. It doesn't matter who that someone is, they just need to care about your progress and you need to feel comfortable enough with them to share your frustrations, setbacks, and successes

Compassion and Commitment

Whatever your New Year's resolution may be, don't get derailed by a day or week when you "fall off the wagon." This is the moment where you need to remind yourself that change is hard for EVERYONE, and it's important to be compassionate with yourself and forgive yourself for not always doing what you say want to do. Then, recommit to your goal and keep working at it until your reach it, then onward to resolution #2!

We hope 2013 will be the year that you achieve your New Year's resolutions.

Best of luck to you and warm regards,

Ken and Lee