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Don't Wait For New Years: Start Your Resolutions Now

   By: Sue Rudolph

Many of us start each New Year determined to accomplish new goals. Often, after a few weeks into the New Year we find our best-laid plans derailed with the challenges and time demands of daily life. As a result, many of us never actualize our well-intentioned goals. You don't have to wait for new years to decide to take action on your most important goals. Here are five time-tested suggestions for achieving your goals now.

Resolution: "A course of action determined or decided on".

The Random House Dictionary

1. When we experience a strong desire for something coupled with the willingness to take action, we set the process of goal achievement in motion. Effective goals are specific, tangible, time limited statements of the results you want. Statements like "I want to be happier" or "I want to be healthier" are too vague to lead you to results. Does your goal meet the SMART test? Effective goals meet the following five criteria:

Specific: Does your goal clearly define what you want? Measurable: How will you know when your goal is achieved? Attainable: Is this goal possible for you to achieve given your characteristics, assets and limitations? Realistic: Does your goal make sense given your current circumstances? Time limited: What is the target date? Without an attached date a goal is a stated intention rather than a desired outcome. You can always change a target date. (Carter-Scott, 2000).

For example, an intention like "I want to be healthier" becomes "I will exercise for 30 minutes per day five times per week for the next six months.

2. Another obstacle to goal attainment is trying to work on to many goals at the same time. Unfortunately, this can dilute our ability to focus. It's important to prioritize your goals. Select the most important resolution and begin to work on it. If you feel you have multiple important goals to work on, limit your self to a maximum of three to optimize your effectiveness. Once you have determined your goal(s), list all the possible things you can do to take action and make your goal come true. Find one-step that resonates with you. Do the first step you selected and then take the next step. If you work daily at something it won't take long to break your goal down into bite size steps that allow you to accomplish a big goal be it writing a book or securing a new job.

3. Structure your environment in a way that optimizes your success. For example, if you are working on improving your health, structure your refrigerator in a way that it supports this goal by keeping nutritious, low fat food choices available. Set-up a walking date with a friend four times per week after work. Organize your support team by asking for help from people you know believe in you. Ask them for support on a daily and/or weekly basis. Reserve time to work on your goal by saying no to things that are not truly important to you. Then leverage this time to work on your goal by building it into your schedule.

4. Change rarely happens in a straight line. It's often two steps forward and one step back. When setbacks occur, process your emotions, put the experience in perspective and then move on. Rather than beat yourself-up with a question like "What's wrong with me? Ask, "What's right with me?" "What is the next step I can take?" "What are my choices now?" Then move forward.

5. Celebrate Success! Reward yourself after the accomplishment of each step you take. Take the necessary steps to experience the fulfillment of your goals!

Carter-Scott, C. (2000). If Success is a Game, These are the Rules: Ten Rules for a Fulfilling Life. New York: Broadway Books.

Written by Suzanne Rudolph Ed.D., Licensed Psychologist and Certified Personal and Professional Life Coach. She can be reached at or visit for more information about coaching services.

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