By KAREN McDOUGALL

Last week, Bluffton intern Matt Chezem wrote about why New Year’s resolutions fail. If we don’t set goals, what will our focus be and what direction will we follow?

What is a New Year’s resolution? Wikipedia writes that it is “a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. A key element to a New Year’s resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the new year and new beginnings.”

In America, the top three New Year’s resolutions are to quit smoking, exercise, and lose weight. Over the years, we all would agree that we have made at least one of these resolutions.

What is the problem that has caused us to fail? The human side of us wants to see immediate results. For me, it’s that I want it now and I don’t want to work for it.

Yogi Berra once said that if you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you will end up some place else. So, we need to set realistic goals to help us get where we’re going.

Ask yourself: What do you want to accomplish, and why? Are you doing this because you want to, or because someone else suggested it?

Last year someone said, “Hey Karen, you need to sign up for this weight-loss program.” I lasted about four months and asked why I should pay to gain weight. Yes, I wanted to lose weight, but I just didn’t want to work at it.

Start by writing your goals and placing them where you can see them every day. As the new year begins, I’m hoping to write encouraging notes on my bedroom and bathroom mirrors. Also, I may even put something on my refrigerator to help me from mindless eating.

What can you change to help accomplish your goals? Perhaps we need to have a positive attitude, lifestyle change and a plan to succeed.

What is going to motivate you? Are you willing to make the commitment and do the hard work? What is your “why” to this goal?

Why not think on smaller, attainable goals? Think about a timeline of when, what and how you’re going achieve this set of goals.

Don’t set your goals too low. This is where determination, motivation and ambition will get you what you desire. Give yourself a nudge and know that you can do it if you put your mind to it.

Then again, don’t set yourself up to fail by setting the goals too high. You know yourself and what you are capable of doing.

Stop procrastinating. You’re not going to reach any goals by just thinking about them. Just remember: one day at a time. If you don’t make it today, know that there is always tomorrow.

Being positive will help you to achieve what you’ve set out to do. Realize you have great potential to succeed. This isn’t about what can be done, but what WILL be done.

Think about an action plan. What do you want to accomplish in the first couple of weeks? How can you do that? What steps are you going to take?

Journal what’s happening daily. By doing this, we can see what has worked and what hasn’t. This is one way we can stick to our plan. It’s amazing how reading about your past can help inspire your future.

When you write your goal, use an action verb to describe what you want to do. Don’t be too vague, write what you mean.

Make your goals achievable and challenging. You know yourself best and what you’re capable of doing.

Reward yourself with each level of goals you reach. This is something to work toward, and you’ve earned it.

After time, review your goals and see if there is any process. If not, ask yourself why. What needs to change, and how can it be done?

Remember: You have to start somewhere, right?

Each day is new: Do the best you can do. You’re the one who is going to be the winner.

McDougall is the SNAP-Ed program assistant at the Ohio State University Extension of Hancock County.

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