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How to Keep Your Resolutions

Setting them's the easy part. This expert's tips will help you keep the resolutions you've made for 2007.

Like the majority of people out there, we'd bet good money one of the first things you did this year was make a resolution or two, be it a personal goal, like getting fit, or one that'll improve your business, like updating your marketing plan.

But making a resolution's one thing--keeping it's another. That's why we asked M.J. Ryan, author of This Year I Will.How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution or Bring a Dream into Being, to share her top seven resolution pitfalls you'll want to avoid this time around:

  • Being vague about what you want from your resolution
  • Not making a serious commitment to follow through
  • Making too many excuses and procrastinating
  • Trying to turn your resolution into reality with no help or support
  • Not setting up a tracking and reminder system
  • Not having a good backup plan
  • Expecting nothing but perfection

Once you make sure you're avoiding the hazards listed above, Ryan suggests following these simple steps to actually keeping your resolution and making it become a reality in 2007:

  • Make it nonnegotiable. Promise yourself that you're absolutely going to follow through with it, no matter what. Just as you would honor your commitment to a friend or relative, honor the one you make to yourself.
  • Make it actionable. In order to succeed, you must know what actions you're going to take to accomplish your goals.
  • Come up with solutions for your usual excuses. Think back to why this resolution may not have worked in the past, and make sure you don't let yourself use the same excuses this time around.
  • Schedule it in. Make a specific, time-bound appointment to do the action necessary to accomplish your goal, and you'll be much more likely to do it.
  • Do it daily. Incorporate your resolution into your daily life--the quicker you do that, the faster it will become so routine that you won't even have to think about it.
  • Monitor your behavior in writing. When you put it in writing, research shows you're more likely to put your full attention toward your goal and follow through with it.
  • Focus on the horizon. Instead of focusing on how much more work you have to do, look at how far you've come. Scientists dub this the horizon effect--it creates encouragement and builds determination.
  • Find someone who's doing what you want and imitate them. Find a role model who's already practicing the habit you want to acquire, and learn by imitation. Watch them, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Teach it to someone else. Become a mentor. This is a great way to cement a new habit--whatever you suggest to someone else, you should practice yourself.

As Entrepreneur.com's staff writer, Kristin Edelhauser writer features, blogs and other pieces for the site. She previously worked as a writer and researcher for the NBC San Diego affiliate.

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