Resolutions still best way to achieve goals

How many people already have broken their 2013 New Year’s resolutions?

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How many people already have broken their 2013 New Year’s resolutions?

It’s been 13 years since I filled this space with tips for making successful resolutions: ideas stolen from a source I can’t recall and offered up from someone who joins you all in the struggle to enforce human will over personal habits.

Briefly, those tips included: Resolve to do something (exercise) instead of stopping something (overeating); have specific, attainable goals; visualize yourself achieving the goals; if unwanted behavior has positive side benefits, remember to replace those benefits by other means.

Most of the so-called experts on setting resolutions focus on similar suggestions: Be realistic, be specific, set reasonable timelines. One of this year’s sources, www.psychcentral.com, adds two important concepts to the mix:

Don’t abandon goals because of temporary setbacks, and turn to others for support and assistance in fulfilling your resolutions.

“Sometimes,” the psychcentral article suggests, “it helps for people to make a few fun resolutions they know are unrealistic and have no intentions of keeping. Since they’ll break those right away, they will then have more time and energy to focus on the real ones.”

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the University of Scranton, the most-declared resolutions themes from 2012 related to self-improvement or education, weight, money and relationships.

That study showed that nearly half of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, but 40 percent of us never make them. Of those who start their year with new goals, almost half those resolutions last beyond six months. On the other hand, only 1 in 7 people over age 50 had achieved their resolutions by year’s end.

Reinforcing the most common theme, the report concluded: “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”

For you fortunate few who have conquered all those bad personal habits, New Year’s resolution time is an opportunity to visit that “self-actualization” level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. From “dare to be different” to “be a coach, not a critic,” there is no end of Nirvana-like life ambitions.

Without admitting specific failures from my past January pledges, suffice to say that I probably have had an average level of success. Maybe for 2013 I should resolve to “Be above average.”

What it all comes down to, it seems, is this: Help yourself; help others; not always in that order.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news register.com or 503-687-1223.

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