Celebrate small successes, no matter what your goal - Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: Opinion

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 11:52 am

If you’re like millions of Americans, you make New Year’s resolutions every year, but you get off track before the year ends.

I’ll be honest. I lose my way much earlier, as soon as the end of January and I’m not proud of that. So why is it hard to stick to New Year’s resolutions?

I posed that question to a guest I interviewed recently on WTHR. I host a Noon News segment, Monday through Friday, called Focus, and I invited Carol Juergensen-Sheets, a personal life coach, to tackle that timely topic. I made excuses right out of the box. “Come on, Carol. It’s hard to keep resolutions with such busy, stressful lives when many of us are juggling jobs, raising kids, and never finding down time.”

Carol agreed, but she didn’t let me off that easily. She said the real reason many of us don’t keep our resolutions is because we don’t design a plan to succeed and we don’t set realistic expectations. Carol shared three steps to success.

First, she says, break down our New Year’s resolutions into “chunkable” goals. (Geez. Did she have to say “chunkable”? That hits close to home for me and others who resolve to lose weight each New Year but, admittedly, it’s appropriate.) “You need to have goals that you can look at and believe you can accomplish within a day or a week, not three months down the road,” Carol said.

“Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to lose 20 pounds,’ you say, ‘I’m going to lose half a pound this week.’ Then, you experience success.”

She’s making sense. We’re less likely to be discouraged when we don’t set goals that overwhelm us. Again, set realistic expectations.

Carol’s second tip? Keep goals measurable. She continued, “Always document whatever you’re going to work on because, when you write it down, you’re more likely to make it happen. So get a journal or a diary and write down, every day, what you did that was successful.” I hesitated. Isn’t that just more work? What if you’re not that organized, I asked. “Well, you’re more likely not to succeed, if you don’t learn this one behavior. Write it down,” Carol emphasized.

I guess that means no excuses.

Her third tip? Reward yourself with positive reinforcements. Carol spells it out. “Tell people when you’ve lost a half pound or, go ahead and buy yourself something special, or look in the mirror and say, “I really did a good job this week. I lost three quarters of a pound!”

But what if we aren’t satisfied with small steps such as losing three quarters of a pound? “That’s three butter sticks off of your body,” Carol exclaimed. “Are you kidding me? That’s huge!” Thanks Carol.

Good food for thought (no pun intended). We have to celebrate the small successes, no matter what our goals, because that helps us stay on track to bigger success.

Since I’ve stumbled off track so often, I’m willing to try. How about you?

You can email comments to Angela Cain at acain@wthr.com.

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