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How to Finally Keep Your Resolutions

By Debbie Mandel

In the winter we percolate New Year’s resolutions, priming ourselves to make them happen. As we spend money on gifts, food, decorations and fashion while we eat mucho calories, we are eager for a fresh start. Yet predictably a couple of weeks into January, for many of us the momentum slows to a screeching halt. What can you do differently this year? According to researcher Julia Bayuk from the University of Delaware, many of us are focusing on the detailed plan, the how-to achieve these goals, instead of the big picture, the looser, more abstract why do I want to achieve this goal?

Bayuk explains, “Planning can actually make you more narrow-minded. I might be so focused on this plan that when there are other opportunities to achieve the same goal, I might not take advantage of them.”

In my own stress-management work I have found that making a resolution stick correlates highly to the resolution truly resonating for you – not your family, friends, colleagues or the community. If a resolution is something you want for yourself you will achieve it without elaborate, detailed plans. You just do it because it becomes a non-negotiable. Soon you become open to opportunities and detours. Rigid steps can make you inflexible like an all or nothing mindset.

This year skip the elaborate plans along with the specific numbers like how much weight you will lose or how much money you will save each week. Instead aim to inspire yourself continuously with these five strategies:
  • Pay attention to your dreams- both sleeping and awake. Can you decode the symbols to figure out your true, secret longings? Use dreams to gauge if your goals are aligned with what you really want.
  • Keep motivation high. Change your screen saver periodically with photos, images or meaningful quotes. Adorn your workspace and other key locations with concrete reminders of your goals. You will be sending yourself overt and subliminal messages – depending on the images or objects you select to inspire yourself.
  • Find your theme song or even better make it up. You can listen to it or if you want to really rev up that mind/ body pathway, sing it out loud. Singing is a great way to de-stress, release endorphins and reinforce a positive memory. Singing the words bestows great power, like a chant or a prayer.
  • Change your life story where you perceive yourself as flawed or inadequate. Accept the self to build on your strengths. It is quite difficult to sustain good habits when you begin with the premise that you are a loser.
  • Work it out. Move that resolution from your mind right through your body. Think it and do it. Find an exercise which matches the mindset (like doing chin ups to keep your “chin up,” or set a specific intention for each workout like today’s workout is about balance and stability.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: