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New New Years Resolutions

If you are going through hell, keep going.
-Winston Churchill

Happy New Year everybody! If you're anything like me, it's going to take you a while to get used to saying "2012," which is the first year that really makes it sound like we're in The Future.

With the New Year, of course, comes a slew of grand proclamations about how we're all going to improve ourselves. Whether it's losing weight, saving more money, reading more, or spending more time with family, many of us will use the turning of the calendar as an opportunity for a full-scale fresh start.

Of course, the joke about New Year's resolutions is that they're completely forgotten about come February. But that needn't be the case; here are two links that I believe can help all of us out in keeping our resolutions:

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bailey Shiffler writes about the importance of clearly defining your goals: "Susan Steinbacher, president and CEO of Steinbrecher & Associate leadership development company, says the most critical component of sticking to a resolution is setting it. She uses what goal experts call the SMART test, advising eager resolution makers to ask whether the pledge is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound."

It's absolutely important, Shiffler says, that people setting goals spell out very specifically what they want and how they will work toward that goal. For many people, losing weight is a resolution that is easy to keep up with initially but that becomes progressively more difficult. A piece in the latest New York Times Magazine describes the difficulty in keeping off lost weight for the long-term:

For years, the advice to the overweight and obese has been that we simply need to eat less and exercise more. While there is truth to this guidance, it fails to take into account that the human body continues to fight against weight loss long after dieting has stopped. This translates into a sobering reality: once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat.

Weight loss, then, is the quintessential resolution because it is one of the most difficult things to do. Our bodies actually take measures to prevent us from doing it. This does not mean we should give up so easily, however. There are thousands of great resources that help guide determined people through the process, that help change entire lifestyles.

Let's all work toward self-improvement throughout this entire year, and let's not contain it to a beginning-of-the-year fad. Remember that the difficult and challenging things in life are often the most worthwhile, and that you're not in it alone.

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