New Year's Resolutions: 7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid

Skip these common blunders to reach your goal

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Will you make a resolution for the new year?  If you make one of the most popular New Year's resolutions, you'll choose to lose weight, exercise more often or improve your health.  But no matter what goal you set, there are certain critical resolution mistakes you should avoid when you decide to make changes.

Common New Year's Resolution Mistakes

  1. Spending too much money to reach your goal.  Many people run to the bookstore for diet books, sign up for a gym membership or hire high-priced trainers to help them reach their goal.  Investing money on your New Year's resolution isn't a bad thing, but there is no magical tool or trainer that can make your resolution a reality.  Invest time, not money.  Learn how to be your own personal trainer, become your own motivational expert and spend time setting proper goals. Then, as you reach short term goals, buy that fitness tool or diet gadget as a reward for your accomplishment.
  1. Keeping your resolution your head.  Your New Year's resolution will be easy to forget and even easier to avoid if you keep it in your head.  Write it down!  Post your goal in a place where you will see it every day. The note will serve as a reminder of your commitment.  If you keep a written journal, you'll also boost your chances of success.  Jot down notes about how you feel as you move through your weight loss or self-improvement journey.  Use the journal as a food and exercise log.  Then refer back to your journal when you need a motivational reminder of how far you've come.
  2. Oversimplifying the goal process.  A goal is a goal is a goal.  Right? Wrong! All goals are not the same. There are five essential elements of successful goals.  Learn what they are and make sure that you devote enough time to include each element in your written statement about what you hope to achieve in the new year.  The goal setting process should take 20-30 minutes if you do it correctly.
  1. Not using S.M.A.R.T system.  People who measure progress in work environments often use the S.M.A.R.T system to increase productivity and reach goals.  You can use this system to set personal goals as well.  S.M.A.R.T goals lay the foundation for a more successful process in January and throughout the year. 
  1. Overestimating long-term motivation.  If you think that your New Year's Day enthusiasm won't wear off, you're wrong. Going on a diet seems like a great idea on day one, but it will seem like a terrible idea when you are hungry and tired on day 23. A well-written goal will help remind you of your commitment.  But you should also familiarize yourself with the motivational techniques used by the pros.  Practice these strategies from day one so you are an expert at knowing how to motivate yourself when the going gets tough. 
  2. Not believing in yourself.  In an interview for the American Psychological Association University of Scranton psychology professor John Norcross, PhD. said that self-efficacy is a key predictor of resolution success.  What's self-efficacy? It's your feeling about whether or not you are able to carry out a specific task or goal.  It's a belief system that is trainable. Learn how to boost your self-efficacy from the beginning of your resolution process.  It will help you stay on track for the long haul. 
  1. Not asking for help. Even if you believe in yourself, support from others will help you reach your goals. I've had the chance to interview a few successful Biggest Loser contestants. Both Hannah Curlee (season 11) and Pete Thomas (season 2) told me that reaching out for help is a key component of weight loss success.  Find friends, coworkers or family members who will offer encouragement when you need it.

You can reach your goals and make your New Year's resolution a reality if you take some time in the beginning of your process to lay the foundation for a strong program. 

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