It is that time of year again. New Years is just a few days away and it is time to make those promises to ourselves that we are most likely never going to keep. Yes, I am talking about those annual New Year’s resolutions. You know the ones. I’m going to eat healthy, stop smoking, stop drinking, and stay better in touch with my family type of promises.

Most of the time these resolutions are made within a few hours of us standing with a cig in our hand, outside the McDonalds where we just had breakfast and ignoring a New Year’s call from MOM because our hangover is too bad to deal with her.

It doesn’t have to happen that way. With a little forethought and a few simple techniques you can actually keep those New Year’s Resolutions.

Plan Ahead
Never decide on a New Year’s Resolution on New Year’s Eve. If you do, you will only be basing it on how you feel at the time. Take time to consider your life and pick key changes you want to make.

Be Concrete
Don’t say I am going to lose weight or I’m going to stay in touch with my family. Say I will walk, one hour, every Mon. Wed. and Fri. until I lose X lbs. say I will talk to my mom, brother, sister on the phone, the evening of the first Sunday of each month.

The more exact the resolution the better chance you can stick with it. Make yourself set a schedule so you can’t wiggle free and procrastinate.

Be Realistic
I’m going to lose 20 kilos next month. No you’re not and if you did, it wouldn’t be healthy. Resolutions are based on goals and to be achievable goals must be realistic. If you do have a “grand goal” then break it down into smaller pieces where you can see your progress and not get discouraged.Don’t Beat Yourself Up|
None of us is perfect and you have to recognize you may slip up. If one of your resolutions is something like quitting smoking then it is very likely to happen, addictions are hard to beat. If you slip acknowledge it, tell yourself you have got to do better and move on. Obsessing over a slip will only make your life harder.Reward Yourself
You’ve made it three days without a cigarette or eating chocolate, it’s time to celebrate. As you make progress, reward yourself in small ways and the farther you get on your journey the bigger the reward should be. This reinforcement gives you something positive to focus on. You’re not giving up tobacco, you’re saving for a five star dinner with your family.

Tell People about It
Tell all your friends and family that you can and will do it. Telling people will make it concrete in your life. No one wants to fail in front of their family and friends.

Be Positive
Lastly, tell yourself that you can, a positive attitude is often the difference between success and failure, regardless of the endeavour. Affirm yourself daily, hourly, every five minutes if you have to. The more you say it, the more you will believe it and the better your chances of success will be.

Happy New Year, Everyone!