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On Keeping Good Resolutions

What are the best ways to keep the resolutions we make?

We have all, surely, made good resolutions. We will eat and drink less, exercise more, and be more patient and understanding with our loved ones. Some of us even write these resolutions down, or at least make lists of things we plan to do, or keep records of our attempts to fulfill our plans. This usually lasts for a short period and then our lists and plans peter out, we fall by the wayside, and relapse into the same behavior that made us make the resolutions in the first place.

So how to avoid this vicious cycle?

Something I have found helpful is not to be too hard on yourself. Don’t set impossible goals. Allow yourself a small line of chocolate, in the evening, for example, if you happen to have a sweet tooth; give yourself a day off from your exercise regimen or perhaps exercise every other day if you are running or doing something really strenuous and are no longer 21. Voice a precise and limited disagreement or feeling of dissatisfaction with a loved one, before it becomes overwhelming and breaks into full-blown anger. In other words allow yourself a little latitude which will enable you to keep the good resolution for a longer period at least.

Next, distract yourself with other activities that may also be helpful. If you are trying not to overeat get away from the kitchen, stay away from restaurants where the helpings are often more abundant, and it is harder to know what is being served.

If you have managed to take off some weight, wander the shops and try on a few clothes. Perhaps even reward yourself for your success. Treat yourself with a new outfit that will flatter your figure and make sure you stay as trim as you are, in order to wear the new clothes.

Keep busy with other activities you might enjoy. Remember that exercise, for example, can be taken doing something you really enjoy or need to do anyway like tidying, dusting or vacuuming, or taking a Salsa class, or even doing yoga which might calm the mind as well as stretch the body.

With those you love try to find activities you enjoy doing together. Take a night off and go to the movies, a concert or a play; perhaps share in or try to help the other with his/or her work. Read what he is reading or take an interest in her studies. Remember, too, for the couple, the importance of touch, the eternal advantages of sex. As has been said before, it does not cost money, nor put on weight, and it forms easy and wordless bonds with loved ones as nothing else does, perhaps.

And if you fail to accomplish what you have hoped to, don’t give up, but persevere. Start again after a relapse. Remember the great line from “Some Like It Hot”: Nobody is perfect.

Sheila Kohler is the author of many books including the recent Dreaming for Freud.

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