An End and A Beginning

The New Year is always a time of closure and new beginnings.

It is the time of year we reflect on what we accomplished over the past 365 days and articulate what we hope to do in the coming 365 days. This year as you craft your resolutions with high hopes, we’ve got some tips that will help you stick to them throughout the year. With years and years of abandoned lists to learn from, we’ve realized it’s time to come up with a new strategy. So this year, we’re advising that you kick it up a bit.

Alicia on ‘Completion’

‘One of the best ways to gain momentum as you head into the New Year is to tie up those loose ends and generally finish what you’ve already started. Take a look around and see what needs to be completed around you. Any papers need to be filed? The simple act of completing an organizational task, no matter how small, gets the magic of momentum working for you, not against you! Even though you’ve heard it a million times before — it’s true that a series of small steps add up to real progress.’

Sarah on ‘A Shift in Thinking’

‘It’s amazing how a simple shift in thinking can make something that was difficult, like weight control, less of a struggle. A few years ago I stopped defining my ‘ideal weight’ as a single number, a static goal, and instead defined it first as a positive state of mind (being happily fit vs. weight control) and then as an acceptable range of numbers (no, I’m not telling). That simple reframing of the issue has helped me tremendously. Sometimes my figure is more outwardly perfect, and sometimes it’s a little more round. But I never feel like I’m failing. And that’s what keeps me on track.’

To kick start your 2008, here are a few simple tips.

#1. Visualize Your Goals
Go out and get a bunch of magazines with imagery that is likely to help you visualize your goals in a number of different areas: home, vacations, career, parenting, spirituality, health. From now until the end of the year – cut out images that represent your goals for the year (and really the next 3-5 years). Then, the last week in December – that one week when there’s somewhat of a lull- put together a small photo album for yourself that brings to life each area. That way, you’ll have physical reminders of what you want to be that you can look at during the course of the year when it’s all too easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you’re married and/or have a significant other, be sure to do it together.

#2 Schedule Your Resolutions
From years of experience, we can report that those general resolutions are the least successful. ‘Lose weight.’ ‘Get in shape.’ ‘Learn to speak Spanish’ (That one’s been on our list for years!) This year, don’t just get specific with your goals, schedule them. Say you want to lose weight. Before the New Year, buy yourself a 2008 calendar, and start scheduling days you’ll go to the gym. Mark on the calendar ‘weigh in’ days, along with your target weight. Do this for the first few months of the year so you’ll have not only specific goals to reach, but by the time it reaches March or April, you’ll have established a pattern that will carry you through the rest of the year. You’ll be lighter (or in our case, muy fluent) in no time.

#3 Make a ‘Fall off the Wagon’ Plan
We know it might come as a shock, but nobody is perfect! The problem is we all tend to lose sight of that when it comes to sticking to our resolutions and once we don’t ‘perfectly’ adhere to our plan, we often throw up our hands and give up. This year, plan ahead for those moments of imperfection! For each goal, write down one or two actions you can take to get yourself back on track if you find you have fallen off the wagon.