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Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and How to Reach Your Goals Anyway)

By Lynnea Amend

How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution and really started strong -- only to give up by February?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve done this. Resolutions just don’t work for most of us because life happens. A client and I were talking the other day and she told me that she'd had the best mole sauce ever while on a vacation in Mexico and made a vow to herself that she’d spend her time in the kitchen at home until she re-created it. I asked her if she’d done it; she laughed and said, “It's hard enough to put together any dinner at 7 at night after a long day's work; I’m lucky if I can pour myself a glass of wine.” My point exactly: we have life to live and wine to drink.

You may be saying to yourself, “Great, so if I’m just going to fail, I may as well not try.” Pump the brakes, my friend. Being realistic and practical in our approach to goals is essential to success. An English study of 3000 subjects with a New Year’s resolution resulted in 88% of them failing, even when over half were certain they would be successful. Interestingly enough, those with peer support were the most successful.

Here are some of my suggestions for success:

Decide on your goals and then share them with others. People have a better rate of success when they shared their goals with others.

If your goal is fitness related, make it something fun and social. Group classes are an excellent way of meeting others with similar goals and staying motivated. Circle Studio's Winter Start-Up Gyro and Pilates Series (starting the week of January 14th) would be perfect.

Make sure you can measure your progress. I’m talking numbers here people; whether it’s by amount of weight lifted, miles run, etc. That way you don’t get discouraged because of a “moving target.”

Be realistic. Set attainable goals --consider your body type and your energy level. If you’re not sure, ask your fitness instructor. I told my Pilates mentor I wanted to do the side splits (with my pre-arthritic hips) and she laughed. For now, I just need to focus on increasing flexibility (but I’ll show her one day!).

Set a date. Figure out a realistic date to accomplish the goal by.

Give yourself a reward when you reach your goal. Maybe a trip to Maui, maybe a new pair of kicks…whatever floats your boat.

Whatever your goals are for the New Year, I hope that 2013 brings you health, happiness and lots of laughter.