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New Year's Resolutions Very Hard to Keep

Posted - Dec. 31, 2003 at 11:20 a.m.



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Are you sick of the ritual of making New Year's resolutions because you never seem to be able to make any real changes no matter how hard you try?

You have tried every diet in the book and yet you have still not been able to lose weight or keep it off. Your attempts to quit smoking have been such failures that you are convinced that you are a hopeless nicotine addict. Making new friends or getting rid of the ones that drag you down produces such negative results that your self-esteem is lower than Saddam Hussein's spider hole.

Behavioral scientists tell us that making significant long-term changes takes effort that often seems beyond the capacity of many individuals. This is evident in the high relapse rates of substance abusers, a large and growing percentage of overweight people and a population of spenders rather than savers.

During my many years of professional counseling, I have encountered many people who have successfully made changes in their lives.

The following are some examples of these successful efforts:

- Some people who have lost weight, quit smoking or stayed in recovery with alcohol or drug problems have done so because of the fear factor.'' For example, a doctor tells a patient,You have the early symptoms of emphysema and unless you quit smoking, you risk premature death.'' An employer tells an employee, Get a handle on your alcohol problem or you're fired.'' Or one partner in a marriage states,If things don't improve in our relationship, I'm going to get a divorce.''

- Other people change because they find someone who helps them stick with goals and who becomes the push or pull necessary to stay with desired objectives. The buddy system, a trainer in an exercise program, or a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous are examples of this type of assistance.

- Finally, there are people who simply wake up one day and say, I am finally ready to make a change.'' They throw away the pack of cigarettes and never smoke again, put the cork in the bottle for good, or begin an exercise program that becomes a way of life. Somethingclicks'' for these people and this often occurs after many false starts, unanswered prayers and disappointing failures.

If New Year's resolutions haven't worked for you in past, then perhaps another method of change will help you accomplish your goals.

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(The Cox web site is at http://www.coxnews.com )

c.2003 Cox News Service

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