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Make those resolutions a keeper

[1]By Erika Weisensee

It’s that time of year again. Millions of Americans are promising to get fit, break their bad habits, and spend more time with family and friends. On January 1st, many of us will toss our 2011 calendars into recycle bins, eager to begin the New Year with a fresh start. But the reality is, most of us will fall back into old patterns before we even hit spring.

A recent survey by FranklinCovey revealed the most common New Year’s resolutions. According to the survey, which polled more than 15,000 people, the most popular resolutions are: 1) getting out of debt or saving money; 2) losing weight; and 3) developing a healthy habit (e.g., exercise or eating healthy).

Given the economy, it is heartening to see financial responsibility at the top of the list. It’s also not surprising to see losing weight and developing healthy habits ranking high. While Americans don’t seem to have problems making resolutions, we do have difficulty keeping them.

The FranklinCovey survey found that 35 percent of people break their resolutions by the end of January, and only 23 percent don’t break their resolutions at all. Numerous factors keep us from keeping the vows we make to ourselves. Maybe our resolutions are unrealistic, maybe we’re not really committed to them, maybe be need more support in achieving our goals. Whatever the obstacle, experts offer advice that can help people stick to their resolutions:

1) Set just one goal. Stephen R. Covey, best-selling author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” suggests setting just one New Year’s resolution. Keep the resolution simple, like “contact old friends,” or “read more.”

2) If you slip up, don’t give up. Don’t let one mistake get you permanently off track. For instance, if you resolve to eat healthy but indulge in too many tasty treats at a Super Bowl party, get to the gym the next day and resume your healthy habits.

3) Make sure it really matters to you. Choose a resolution that has the ability to greatly enhance your life, and you may be more committed to keeping it. And, don’t punish yourself. Instead of never allowing yourself to eat a piece of chocolate, resolve to just eat healthier.

4) Get others involved. Don’t go it alone. Find someone who wants the same thing and keep each other accountable. Also, ask your partner or a friend to check in with you about your goal and how you are doing.

Good luck and happy 2012!

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