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How to Make Your Resolutions Last Longer Than February: Helpful Tips from The New York Times's Columnist/Blogger Tara Parker Pop

Posted Dec 18 2008 7:33pm

If you've had problems sticking to your New Year's resolutions, you're in good company. Tara_parkerpope75_100

Tara Parker-Pope, columnist for The New York Times's new health blog, "Will," alerts us to the fact that four out of five people who set goals for 2008 will eventually break them. What's more, one-third of people won't stick to their resolutions beyond the end of January.

In her piece, "Will your resolutions last til February?," Parker-Pope credits renowned time management firm FranklinCovey for these discouraging findings, which suggest that your resolutions may be doomed to failure. (Take heart, though, because, in her column, Parker-Pope offers some helpful ideas to make your resolutions a reality. Read on to learn more.)

Anyhow, FranklinCovey found that:

  • 35 percent of respondents break their New Year's resolutions by the end of January.
  • Only 23 percent of those surveyed don't ever break their resolutions.

So why do people flop in their New Year's resolution efforts?

"Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed attribute breaking their resolutions to having too many other things to do, while 33 percent say they are not committed to the resolutions they set," Franklin Covey found.

As can be expected, some of people's top 10 resolutions include breaking an unhealthy habit (e.g., smoking, alcohol, overeating), losing weight, developing a healthy habit (such as exercising or eating more healthful foods), getting organized and getting out of debt or saving money.

Interestingly, FranklinCovey arrived at its conclusions by polling more than 15,000 customers about their planned New Year’s resolutions and examining replies from 612 people. (Bear in mind, though, that FranklinCovey clients are probably much more skilled in setting and achieving goals than the rest of the population so I wonder if the New Year's resolutions failure rates are even higher for the rest of the population. Or, perhaps a lot of the people who didn't reply were too busy achieving their resolutions?)

Experts contend, New York Times columnist Parker-Pope writes, that "the real problem is that people make the wrong resolutions. The typical resolution often reflects a general desire, rather than a specific goal."

Parker-Pope then devotes the rest of her colum to offer nine practical solutions to keeping your resolutions. Three of my favorite suggestions the reporter offers are to buy a pedometer, always order salad and revamp one meal.

1. Pedometer Power

Did you know that you'll move more if you wear a pedometer? This idea is a simple one to help you exercise more. Reporter Parker-Pope explains: "In November, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that showed people who used pedometers to monitor their daily activity walked about 2,000 more steps every day, or about one extra mile, compared to those who wore covered pedometers and couldn’t monitor their steps. People who used pedometers also showed statistically meaningful drops in body mass index and blood pressure."

2. MakeOne Meal More Healthy

Another idea that's simple to put into action is the idea to resolve "to improve the health content of just one meal a day. "Focusing on one meal is easier than trying to overhaul all of your daily eating habits at once. For instance, if you eat a bagel every day for breakfast, switch to whole wheat toast." That suggestion comes courtesy of New York University nutritionist Lisa R. Young.

“Small and tangible one-day-at-a-time goals work best.'’Dr. Young told reporter Parker-Pope. "Or at lunch, she suggests resolving to always leave a few bites of sandwich on the plate."

3. Always Start With Salad

Chomping on lettuce and veggies before meals is an effective way to cut calories, Parker-Pope explains, noting that a study from Pennsylvania State University found that women who finished a salad before eating pasta main course reduced their calorie intake by 12 percent "without even thinking about it."

Read Parker-Pope's column to get other ideas on how to make your New Year's resolutions stick.

Now, check out these "8 Tips for Making More Effective New Year's Resolutions and Goals in 2008," which are offered from Stephen R. Covey, best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and T he 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness; Julie Morgenstern, professional organizer, time-management expert and best-selling author; and FranklinCovey (NYSE:FC), a global leader in effectiveness training, productivity tools, and assessment services.

Three of my favorite tactics from these experts include: Write down your goals, take baby steps and track your progress.

So, today, if you haven't taken pen to paper yet, jot down those goals, because, as the FranklinCovey experts observe, "The act of writing down your goals will increase your chances of achieving them."

What's more, they recommend that "you write them somewhere you will review them often (e.g., a planner or prominent place in your home or office). By reviewing your goals daily, weekly and monthly, and the progress you are making towards them, you will stay more committed to achieving them."

Read the 8 tips from FranklinCovey now.

I have to go now, because I want to take my handwritten list of New Year's resolutions that I worked on yesterday and type them up and post them in a prominent place in my office! And I want to see when I can take another class from FranklinCovey. (I already took a fabulous one recently.)

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