Last week we talked about how to make resolutions. Make sure they’re important to you—that they’ll make a significant enough difference in your life to motivate you to work at them. Make them realistic enough and few enough that you’re not setting yourself up for failure. And above all, make a plan you can stick to. But how?

Get a calendar. That’s so you can quantify what you want to achieve over a specific time frame. For example, you’d like to lose 10 pounds in 10 months. Use a diary or calendar devoted to your goal—because it’s special and worth singular attention. Write down your resolution, why it’s important to you and how you will benefit. Keep it first and foremost in your diary so you can refer to it often.

Think through your plan. Think how you can achieve your goal. What are the do-able tasks and how long will they take? Write them down in your calendar so you’ll know what you need to do and when. If you want to lose weight by eating carefully and exercising, for example, you’ll have a two-pronged plan for food and exercise.

For the food component, you’ll need to research what kind of diet you’ll be on that makes sense. You’ll probably need to rid your pantry of food that can trip you up, like potato chips. Then create menus, buy food, get any special equipment you might need, like a blender for smoothies.

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For the exercise component, you’ll need to determine what you can do to help you burn calories. Pick something you like to do and your chances of success will be best. Then note on your diary what you’ll be doing, when and for how long. Like, say, walking M-W-F on the forest preserve loop for 45 minutes. Of course for both the food and exercise components be sure and check with your doctor.

Break down your goal. Make your goals manageable in small chunks. For example, you may find your 45-minute walk is too much for you. Start smaller with 20 minutes or a half hour and work your way up to it. Or you may find it daunting to cut out sweets cold turkey. Maybe you reduce them first, and then gradually rid yourself of sugar. Set small goals and write them down in your calendar.

Hold yourself accountable. Decide how often you’re going to check on your progress and mark those milestones on your calendar. If you’re trying to lose weight, you won’t want to check too often as it might discourage you when you plateau. And sometimes you’ll even slip backwards, which can make you want to throw in the towel entirely. But make up your mind not to give up. Nobody’s perfect and the road to success is rarely a straight line. Put it behind you and work toward your goal with renewed vigor.

Reward your successes. When you do achieve a milestone, give yourself kudos. Recognize that you’ve worked hard and that you deserve a reward. Make a deal with yourself that when you reach a certain goal, say, the halfway mark, you get to splurge. Mark it on your calendar. When you lose five pounds you get a hot stone massage. Or whatever floats your boat.

Remember, you are in charge of yourself, and you can make good things happen. Nobody else is responsible for your success but you. Resolve—you can do this!

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact.

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