How to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Actually Benefit You

It’s That Time of Year.

Look at some of her resolutions - they're very funny.

This time of year, our thoughts turn to new beginnings in the New Year. If you are one of the about 50 percent of Americans who commit to a New Year’s resolution, you might be currently brainstorming for your very own self-improvement project.

However, if we successfully achieved every single New Year’s resolution, we wouldn’t need to make them every year, would we? We’d have the perfect outlook on life, maintain our ideal weight and have money saved in the bank.

Alas, only 8 percent of people surveyed by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology reported success in achieving their resolution. In fact, 24 percent of respondents say they are never successful with their resolutions and fail every year. It can be demoralizing to fail and those setbacks could persuade us to stop setting goals altogether.

Instead of abandoning self-reflection and self-improvement, why not evaluate the types of goals we set? Are they unattainable from the start? Are we unrealistic? Here are some tips to help make New Year’s resolutions that are beneficial and attainable. [Read more…]

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Dealing with Holiday Food Pushers and Food Cops

santa-taking-cookies

From Hanukkah gelt to peppermint bark to reindeer cookies; you can’t toss a Santa hat three feet without it landing in a mountain of sweet, sugary treats this time of year.

The holidays also bring out two characters extremely challenging to dieters attempting to stay the course through the most difficult time of year. So, in the interest of peaceful family get-togethers and company parties, I provide advice on how to deal with the ever-present “Food Police” and “Food Pushers.”

One can tell when the former is within earshot because you’ll hear: “Is that on your diet?” or “Should you be eating that?” Unfortunately, no matter how carefully worded and lovingly delivered, it always comes across as (delivered in the tone of a schoolyard taunt), “Neener-neener-neener! I caught you cheating!”

First tip: Override the initial reaction to share what you are eating rather forcefully by shoving it in his face.

The sad truth is that will not make the situation better; worse yet, your next meal might be served through bars.

On the other extreme is the “Food Pusher,” who sings a different carol, attempting to stuff you with all manner of delights. One recognizes her by the guilt-inducing expressions, “I made it just for you” or “One bite won’t hurt.”

Although these personality types appear opposites —one at-tempts to keep you from what you want and the other is forcing on you what you don’t — they are actually related. Each person’s is really trying to help you be happier. The “cop” does this by attempting to keep you on the straight and narrow, while the other provides “permission” to relax and cut loose.

Once we understand that motivation, we can handle them — without violence — by utilizing the “3 Rs.”

[Read more…]

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Expect More

dream-written-in-sand

Research has shown that our ancient ancestors were pessimists.

When you think about that, it makes sense. In their day, they always had to assume that everything would go wrong so they could anticipate problems in advance. That’s how they survived.

People who didn’t think “worst case scenario” that did not survive as long.

Although we are no longer living in those times, their genetics have been passed down to us and therefore, we’re basically “hard wired” to be pessimistic. We still tend to default to believing that if something can go wrong, it will.

What would it feel like to believe that we might actually do better than we thought?

How empowering would that be? What would you do differently if you assumed that your success would be greater than you imagined – rather than worse?

Dream bigger every chance you get.

It can’t hurt – and the ride will be much more fun no matter how it turns out.

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Time Traveling to Your Future You

One characteristic I appreciate about Christopher Nolan’s directorial style is that he respects the audience’s intelligence.

While so many movies are recycled sequels or targeted to drunken partiers, it’s refreshing to find a filmmaker who thinks more of his viewers, rather than less. So I recently ponied up a wad of cash to go to the cinema (I even paid nighttime rates!) and watched a heady sci-fi flick called “Interstellar.”

No spoiler alerts, but the butler did it. (Just joking.) Anyway, to sum up the film in the space I’m allotted in this column would be nearly as improbable as some of the concepts outlined in the story. Yet the main gist involves Matthew McConaughey and crew seeking out a new planet for humanity to call home via multi-dimensional, time-shifting space travel. I warned you: heady.

If you’re into sci-fi, it’s a great use of three-hours and, with the exception of some doubts I share with astrophysicist/celeb Neil deGrasse Tyson about traveling through black holes, the story is tight. (Of course, I’m pretty sure Mr. Tyson is not even aware that we share said concerns, but I’m certain he’d be delighted by my support.)

Anyhoo, I bring this to the conversation because the story reminded me that — although not as extremely as are the characters in the film —we’re all moving through time.

For us however, it’s limited to one direction and we are not given the ability to jump dimensions and re-chart former decisions we now regret.

Moreover, since the new year is rapidly approaching and January is ground zero for us to be inundated with reminders to make resolutions, I am jumping the gun to share a unique take on how to create that new you. Every year well-intended folks who espouse resolutions tell us to focus on positive actions, such as “I will go to bed at 10:00” or “I will use less salt.” Equally true, every year, somewhere north of 80 per-cent of people give up on their goals within their first three weeks. Something is obviously off-kilter.

That system is flawed because, firstly, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know you’ve arrived?”

[Read more…]

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Action list for Habit Change

Just because the holidays are rapidly approaching does not mean that we get a free pass on changing bad habits.

Fat man holding a measurementIf you’re trying to change your lifestyle, don’t make the mistake of waiting until “after the holidays.” After all, they’ve been going on for over 2,000 years; they’re not stopping anytime soon.

So, for those dedicated souls who wish to enter next year without regret about having “blown it” during the last two months of the year, here are several strategies to navigate your way to a new you in the new year.

Be “sparklingly clear” about what your definition of success looks like.

How will you know you’ve arrived if you don’t know what it looks like when you’re there? It’s true; the result might look different than expected. However, one doesn’t begin a trip without at least an idea about where he’s going.

Describe success in as much depth as you can. Use numbers whenever possible while also focusing on the feelings that will result from your hard work. Use concrete descriptions in defining your goals.

Instead of “I will lose weight,” try (for example) “I will wear a perfect size ten comfortably by January 15.”

Take ridiculously tiny steps.

Small steps done regularly will always generate more results than large steps done intermittently. In other words, it’s better to walk a block and really do it than to swear you’ll run a mile and never get around to it.

If after saying, “I will do (whatever),” you’re not 100 percent absolutely dead-on totally confident that you really will do that, then that goal is too large. Make it small enough so that you have no excuse to not do it.

By the way, a good indicator is that if your inner critic is telling you’re not doing enough, you’re probably on track.

Embrace the rough patches

[Read more…]

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