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How to keep your New Year's resolutions

THE 10 most common New Year's resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking or give up alcohol, make career changes, develop or enrich relationships, change your financial situation, get organised, learn something new, become more involved in your community, or simply be happier.

But some people often make the same resolution every year, only to give up a few days or weeks down the track.

Most resolutions involve change of some kind, but we don't always have the emotional energy to make it happen in a powerful and sustainable way. There are four key stages that determine success or failure when making changes in your life. They are motivation, decision-making, creating and actioning strategies, and solidification.

Motivation to change is generated when your current state is unpleasant enough to move away from, and the alternative is attractive enough to give you the energy to move towards it. If your resolution is to get fit and lose weight, consider what it is about being unfit and overweight that is unpleasant for you, e.g., lack of energy, feeling awkward in social situations, having difficulty buying clothes. 'Forward' energy is generated by awakening possibilities and imagining the pleasure you will experience if the change is accomplished, e.g., being able to compete in a sports event or feel confident in a new dress.

Decision-making starts with being specific about what you don't like about your current behaviour or situation and understanding the impact that has on your life. If you are down on yourself for not going to the gym because you are embarrassed about being overweight or out of breath, the impact is you are unable to break the cycle and you then feel bad about that as well. The decision occurs when you feel strongly enough to say 'no more' to your current ways and 'yes' to the possibility of change.

Creating a step-by-step strategy requires having clear and measurable outcomes. For example, instead of a loose goal like 'get fit and lose weight', you need to do something specific, such as 'lose 10kg and be fit enough to run 10km'. The time-frame is also important as it tests the reality of your goals and needs to be achievable.

Next, list resources and skills you need, such as 'go to the doctor, join a gym, organise clothing', and decide how to stay focused and how to get back on track if you lapse.

• For more information call Gina on  02 6686 2950.

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