By Joann Donnelly, MA, BCC, CHFS, Executive Director of Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Programs at the YMCA of Greater Boston

For millions of people the start of a new year signifies the best time to create new goals for themselves. “Out with the old, in with the new” as the saying goes. Even with the best of intentions, however, the majority of us ditch those resolutions before the calendar hits February.

Here are a few suggestions that could help give your resolutions more staying power:

  1. Ask yourself “why.” Ask yourself why you are choosing to work on a particular resolution. Pick resolutions that are personally meaningful to you, in line with your personal value system, and are not just about gaining the approval of others. Pick losing weight as a resolution if it’s important to you, not to someone else in your life.

  2. Focus on the journey, not just the destination. Tackling major life changes such as beginning an exercise habit requires preparation, motivation, focus, energy and successful change is never a straight path. There are important short-term lessons to be learned by careful preparation and execution along the way that could increase your chances of long term success.

  3. Failure is not a four letter word. Just ask a baby learning to walk or an ex-smoker. Most people who successfully quit smoking do so after failing in initial attempts to quit. The key is to pay attention to what derails your efforts and to the things that are helping you be successful.

  4. Enlist a support system. And then ask of others what you need from them. Be specific. And be mindful that those closest to you are sometimes unwitting saboteurs of your goals. If you choose to begin an exercise program and your spouse does not, for example, get creative, enlist online support of people with similar goals if you need to.

  5. Be kind to yourself and try and have fun. Many people enter into life changes and resolutions with a punitive mindset “I have gained too much because I am lazy” and then wonder how come they can’t keep stay motivated long term. Treat yourself as you would your best friend if he/she needed help from you.

You can do it! We’re here to help you achieve your 2013 resolutions. Please don’t hesitate to ask Y staff for assistance.