Lehigh University
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Keeping your New Year’s resolutions

It happens January of every year. You make a commitment to change and then by the second week of the new year, you have lost your momentum and just give up. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30 percent of us will break our commitment within two weeks and less than half will make it past six months.

How can you break that pattern and make sure your commitment to change lasts through the year? Knowing yourself—your personality traits and what motivates you—will help you set goals that you’ll be more inclined to keep all year long.

Motivation expert Sally A. White, professor and dean of the College of Education, says your goals have to match your perceptions of what you think equals success.

"You have to know what motivates you before you can make a resolution to start or stop something," White says. “Once you understand that, you can set realistic goals and determine how to motivate yourself to achieve them over the long term.”

Here are White’s practical tips to make this the year you finally keep your resolutions:

• First, understand what motivates you and how you can keep yourself motivated. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you like to win? Do you like to show off your talents, abilities? Or do you prefer being part of a team that succeeds, and look for opportunities that challenge you, regardless of the outcome?
• Select an activity that provides plenty of challenge and flexibility.
• Set specific goals, such as “lose 20 pounds in six months” (and not just “lose weight”).
• Take steps to make it easy to stay motivated. “Keep your workout clothes in a place where you’ll trip over them … to remind you to exercise to meet your goal of losing 10 pounds in six months,” White suggests.
• Allow yourself time to improve.

--Joanne C. Anderson

Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005

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