Okay, so 2015 is here and many of you will be thinking about making some new year’s resolutions. And even though there are lots of tips out there to help you succeed once you have made the commitment, here are three suggestions to review before jumping in.

Resolutions usually involve making positive changes like losing weight, stop smoking, working out more and so on. The thing is, change is very difficult and I’m convinced that if you’re going to be successful, several factors have to be in place. In general, well thought out plans work better than impulsive urges. Here are some basic questions to ask yourself before taking up a new year’s challenge.
• Are my expectations realistic?
• Is the timing good? All things considered, is this a good time to take on a difficult challenge? How did I come to make the decision to change now?
• Do I really want to change?
Whatever the desired goal, it must be realistic. For example, if I want to lose 50 lbs. but I give myself only 6 months to do it in, I might be setting myself up for failure. Before attempting any significant changes, you have to do a little research and perhaps talk to your doctor and honestly look at your abilities and past record.
Secondly, practical things need to be considered. Things as basic as do I have the time or the money needed to commit to a major project are important to think about. Another factor is one’s stress level and overall health. All change is stressful and anxiety producing even when it’s a positive undertaking.
Finally, along with practical consideration is the more complicated question of motivation which is often the most critical piece of the puzzle. Many folks undertake new year’s resolutions because they feel outside pressure to do so or because they feel guilty or even fearful. Real change really is made or sustained from a sense of obligation or threat. That doesn’t mean that our feelings aren’t mixed about putting in the effort and certainly our minds usually hold a “minority report” and resist innovation.
And here is a misunderstood fact. Our resistance to change can’t be ignored. To be successful, objections or negative aspects of what the change will bring need to be dealt with. For example, I know need to eat less or stop smoking but to do so will mean that I am more anxious or restless. An alternative way to relax must not only be found but be acceptable and effective.

Succeeding in making a major life change can be one of the most satisfying experiences a person can have. By taking a little time to think through not only the goal but also the process and specific steps involved can greatly increase the likelihood of your success. Good Luck and Happy New Year!