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Every year, on January 1st or a little before, people begin deciding what they will do to make the incoming year better than the last.  In fact, 50% of Americans make some sort of New Year’s resolution.  Top resolutions include to start dieting, debt management, exercise, and smoking cessation.  But, if you are really serious about dieting or making healthier choices, why wait until the New Year?  Here are a few tips that will help you get a head start, so you are settled into your healthy habits before the new year.

Set Achievable, Realistic Goals: When considering a new goal, it is important that the goal is realistic.  For example, let’s say you want to try new vegetables.  Set a realistic goal of trying 1 new vegetable a week for a month versus trying a new one every day for a week.  There is a huge difference between the two scenarios: 4 new vegetables a month in contrast to 7 new vegetables in 7 days.  Remember: you want to set yourself up for success as much as possible.

Be Specific: Be sure to make your goal(s) specific.  It is difficult to track progress without specifics.  Plus, simply knowing that you have met the mark gives you the motivation to continue onward.  Consider: exercising.  This is a great goal, but not specific enough.  Specifying details, such as when and how often you will work out, is better.  For example, you can make a commitment to work out for 30 minutes for 4 days a week at 7am.  Week to week, tracking and recognizing your accomplishments will motivate you to continue with this healthy behavior.

Limit Your List: If you plan to make a list of resolutions, keep your list fairly short.  You do not want to have a laundry list of resolutions that may make it difficult to execute even one.  You may want to learn French, drink more water, start dieting, join a book club, save more money, regularly be in bed by 1opm, quit smoking, and clean out your garage.  Think introspectively about the changes that would benefit you the most and focus on those goals.  That does not mean giving anything up, but it does mean prioritizing.

Make a Plan: Having an effective plan is key to achieving any goal.  Creating a plan will not only help you stay on target but may also help you adjust to a new lifestyle and give you a chance to take incremental steps toward a healthy change.  Failing to plan will put you and your goal at a deficit every time.

Now that you have made a plan, how will you execute it?  Stay tuned for Part 2 for tips that will set you up for success.

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