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Everyone feels the urge to make resolutions around the New Year: to exercise more, save money, lose weight, stop smoking, drink less…but only a few weeks later you’ll probably be slipping back into old habits already. And pretending the whole thing never happened.

So what would make you more successful?

 Restart as necessary

Commitment mostly. And keeping track of your progress. Recognising your successes and not blaming yourself if you fall short.

Not seeing one slip as total failure. Instead, look at what stopped you, and see what you could do better next time.

If a goal seems impossible to reach, ask yourself what’s keeping you from achieving it, rather than giving up.

And making adjustments as you go along. Most people restart severally. The trick’s to to avoid perfectionist thinking. By recognising what you’ve achieved so far rather than despairing at how much you’ve got left to do.

Your goals also have to be realistic, and totally within your control. Like deciding to get married this year isn’t a goal, it’s a wish.

Visualise

Make positive resolutions, because it’s hard to be enthusiastic about something negative, like ‘losing weight.’ Instead, visualise yourself in good shape, and feeling fitter. Or if you’re quitting smoking, imagine your food tasting better, and you and your clothes smelling fresh.

Take action now…not tomorrow

And plan! Like if you’re resolving to start going to the gym, schedule specific dates and times. If your goal’s to spend less, set up an regular transfer to a savings account.

Don’t set resolutions based on something external – society, friends, whoever – telling you to change. Choose something YOU want to change.

The best resolutions are small things, like deciding to read more. Or to be nicer to strangers. They might sound simple, but that’s just the point. They make a difference – and when you realise you’re keeping them, you’ll be surprised at how good you feel!

So instead of saying you won’t ever get angry again, resolve to get angry less often. To drive a little more considerately. Things like these actually work.

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