Relationship column: Ten ‘secrets’ to succeed with your New Year’s Resolutions

Neil Rosenthal

Editor’s Note: Neil Rosenthal is on vacation. This is one of his previously published columns.

So it’s New Year’s already, and you haven’t lost the weight you’d committed yourself to losing. You still haven’t straightened out the mess in the basement or gone through your piles of paper that clutter up the place like you promised yourself you would. And you’re still not exercising like you keep saying you need to.

Want to succeed with your New Year’s resolutions this year? Here’s a guide about how to achieve your goals.

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What’s Holding You Back?

First, examine what’s holding you back from achieving your goal now. What’s in your way? Why haven’t you achieved this goal already? The obstacles that have been in your way will still be there. Knowing where you have trouble will give you extra ammunition in figuring out how not to sabotage your goals or defeat yourself.

Second, eliminate from your environment things that subvert or obstruct your goal. If ice cream is your weakness, and your goal is to lose weight, then you will find it easier not to have ice cream in your house than to have it around and expect yourself to refrain from over-indulging in it. Remove all temptations — especially the temptation of having “just a little.” It is easier to eliminate it than to try to keep it under control.

Depend on Yourself

Third, your goal cannot be dependent on other people. Make sure you can entirely initiate, maintain and control this goal yourself.

Fourth, do you know anyone who has achieved the same goal? Imagine that person giving you advice about how to best go about achieving the goal. What would that advice be?

Fifth, write your goals down, and keep them in front of you every day. Written goals serve as a basis for reminding you to control your will power.

Sixth, word your goal positively. It’s better to say: “I’m going to weigh XXX, look great and be a knock out,” instead of saying: “I want to lose 20 pounds.”

Seventh, what is the price your goal requires? Determine what your goal will cost you in time, money and effort.

Eighth, be steady and realistic with your goal. Losing 20 pounds in two weeks is not realistic. Losing 1-2 pounds a week, and maintaining that pace over a 10-20 week period is much more likely to succeed in the long run and give you a sense of mastery over your weight.

Determine Your Actions

Ninth, decide what actions you will commit to taking to achieve your goal. What will you commit to doing this month? This week? Today?

Tenth, periodically review your progress and fine-tune what you’re doing.

Finally, create motivation for reaching your goal. You can’t just wish for your goal, you have to actively go after achieving it. It’s one of the secrets to succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” — Pogo

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 23rd year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777 or email him through his websit at He is the author of the new book: “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Keeping the Flame Alive.”

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