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New Year’s resolutions: Strategy is key to achieving goals

Amanda Fehd
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Scott Ferguson works out at Sierra Athletic Club.
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Sunday marks the day many of us start an annual temporary guilt trip. We make New Year’s resolutions like we are wishing on a star, and then beat ourselves up when we fail.

But why we fail may have more to do with how we set our goals, rather than whether we can achieve them, according to several people in the know on South Shore.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune asked a psychologist, a fitness center owner, a chiropractor and a pastor how people can better reach their goals.

Some said people should set more realistic goals and create a step-by-step plan, while others emphasized the power of the present, that there is no better time to change than now.

Including God

Calvary Chapel pastor Jerry Foster says his New Year’s sermon always focuses on one theme: a new year, a new life.

“I always tell people to bring faith into whatever their problems are,” he said. “I work in the jail with inmates. A lot of them really want to change and I say to them, ‘You can start right now.'”

“If people put their spiritual life in order first, the rest of their life will come along.”

There are three facets to change, Foster said. The change of the intellect: I want to join the gym. Then there’s change of emotion: I feel like going to the gym. The third change is the change of will: I will go work out today.

“The proof is in the pudding: you have to will what you want,” Foster said.

Feeling the rewards

Tim Christenson, owner of Push Fitness, sees the influx of resolution makers at his gym every winter season. Losing weight or increasing personal fitness is one of the most popular resolutions out there.

But fitness is not just about losing weight, he said. What comes with that is better self-esteem, and a better mental state.

“It is a known clinical fact that exercise raises endorphins, and raises serotonin in your brain,” Christenson said. Low levels of serotonin, a hormone, have been linked with depression. “Exercise makes you feel better and feel alive.”

But how can someone achieve their goal to exercise more?

“The past does not equal the future. Whatever you have done in the past does not equal tomorrow. Forget about the past. The human spirit wants to better itself all the time.”

Christenson asks people: “When now are you ready to start? The time is now, because we might not be here tomorrow.”

Having a plan

Chiropractor Stewart Bittman said most resolutions are wishes. And it’s much easier to make a wish than to set out a clear plan to achieve a goal.

“You need a plan, with baby steps along the way,” Bittman said.

He recommends creating a vision of your completed goal. For example, envisioning yourself thin, fit and happy creates more positive motivation than telling yourself you are fat.

“If you have a vision of it, then you can do it, it will resonate with your heart,” he said.

The wording of your goal makes all the difference, he said. “I need to be thin” is not as empowering as saying, “I choose to be thin.”

“When I say, “I need to be thin, then all I manifest is the need or the want. When I say ‘I choose,’ I empower myself that it’s my choice.”

Positive vision

Psychologist Bill Danton specializes in hypnosis and sees many people every January who want to quit smoking. He echoed Bittman’s sentiment, saying a vision and a plan are crucial.

“People usually set unrealistic goals,” Danton said. “Set smaller, incremental goals that are achievable and in the process you will reinforce in yourself that ‘Hey I can do this.'”

Danton said many people try to visualize negatives like not eating candy, not smoking or not drinking.

“It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t visualize negatives,” he said. “When you say, ‘I’m not going to eat candy,’ you can’t visualize ‘not candy.’ So when you say that, you actually think of candy. It would be better to visualize eating a healthier food.”

For quitting smoking, he recommends substituting non-smoking habit that incorporates a healthy lifestyle, like taking a brisk walk when it is time to take a break at work.

And for lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or drinking, or losing weight, the resolution must include “for the rest of my life,” he said.

For instance, “I will be fit for the rest of my life,” will resonate more powerfully with your psyche than “I will work out – until I lose 20 pounds.”

Common New Year’s resolutions:

1. Lose weight

2. Stop smoking

3. Stick to a budget

4. Save or earn more money

5. Find a better job

6. Become more organized

7. Exercise more

8. Be more patient at work/with others

9. Eat better

10. Become a better person

Source: Goalguy.com


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