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Keeping New Year's Resolutions
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, January 2010

In my book, Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life, the first entry is making a "new" new year's resolution. The focus is on attitude. A healthy attitude helps people become more conscious partners with themselves as they try to introduce lasting change into their lives. We are more likely to have our resolutions come to fruition if we are mindful of setting reasonable and realistic goals.

Yes, you can lose 20 pounds by starving yourself but to make significant life changes to keep those 20 pounds off, then it is the long term attitude, complete with a plan and support from caring people, a commitment to what life would be like living within the framework of a healthier lifestyle (complete with exercise, good nutrition, and a workable stress management program) which will enable you to keep off those 20 pounds.

What makes a difference is to think about what is really important in our lives as we consider how the way we live reflects our values. Considering ways to make significant change is easier if we examine what is truly meaningful. Explore what ignites your passion. People who love animals but don't have pets can get their "animal fix" as well as making a significant contribution by volunteering at an animal shelter or walking a neighbor's dog on a regular basis.

If your resolution is about being less stressed, think about which small changes you can institute to reduce your feeling overwhelmed. Maybe being less connected from work in the evening (turn off the PDA for 2 - 3 hours), making a commitment to walk in nature every week, enroll in a relaxation/breathing, meditation, tai chi or yoga class. If you want to revitalize your interest in live music, sign up for a concert series and put those dates on your calendar. Just knowing you did it will make you feel you are reaching a "reasonable" goal that will occur year long.

Remember, successful resolutions are closely tied to your attitude about being able to make something happen. Believe you can do it and put into place short term, "doable" steps to help you to make it to your goal. Reward yourself along the way. Be your own cheerleader. Remind yourself of what is possible. Keep yourself "real" by reading inspirational stories of others who have accomplished what you are trying to do. Keep your focus on challenging yourself in order to grow and change. Remember all change has some discomfort along the way. Keep sight of your goal to help achieve it. Old attitudes as well as other people's perceptions of you can hold you back from achieving your goal. Go off the familiar path to find new ways of thinking and looking at yourself and go for it.

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