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 Resolutions for the New Year: Goal Setting 101 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Mind Over Matter by . View all columns in series
You read it right!

The New Year is upon us.

As memories of the holiday season gradually fade, it's time to welcome new opportunities for personal growth. It's also a time to establish personal commitments to better ourselves and to accomplish what's been on hold over the past few months when our priorities shifted.

The New Year heralds personal resolutions. A time for self-reflection, it is a special period for gazing into the proverbial mirror and sculpting the changes we’d like to see evolve over the coming months.

Is it a waistline that could use some trimming or an exercise routine that might enable you to enjoy another holiday season? Is it more time with your family or repairing a painful stress fracture in a relationship? Could it be advancing your skills or developing greater pride in your work?

Whatever your goals may be, it's time to develop a plan for achieving what has the potential to make a significant difference in your life - a choice and a commitment that yields greater happiness, security, or peace of mind.

Yet just as you're about to mentally take the plunge, a echo of negativity rears it's familiar and ugly head. You know what I mean.

"That change I'm about to make isn't going to work in the long run," you're probably saying to yourself. "After all, it never has in the past. It's easy enough to get started and a few days of dieting aren't going to kill me ... but a longstanding commitment - that's another story."

And when the dust finally settles, you're right after all. Those New Year resolutions never survived beyond February. Ongoing lifestyle changes simply aren’t easy especially after the brilliance of the idea fades and those frustrating stresses surface that have a tendency to magnetically draw us back to old habits once again. In the midst of the holidays when everyone seems just a bit nicer and more tolerant of each other, the day-to-day tension we all experience seems to slack off. I suppose the holidays are a great build up to change.

Then reality sets in, demands increase, and summer vacation seems so far off.

This year however is going to be different: you will lose that weight, repair that relationship, spend more time with your kids, learn something new and discover peace of mind. You can achieve success in any area you choose if you follow these easy steps.

  1. After choosing a goal, write it down. Close your eyes for 10 minutes and think it through. Imagine living your accomplishment and savor the details of the experience. How will achieving this goal impact your life? The more vivid your imagination, the greater are your chances of success.
  2. Define a reasonable time frame. Even if your goal requires a great deal of time, break it into doable steps of not more than a few months each. If you want to lose 30 pounds, create two 15 pound 60 day goals.
  3. Don't wait to encounter obstacles, consider them now. Ask yourself what is likely to stand in the way of your success. Be proactive and decide how you are going to deal with those roadblocks.
  4. As an extension of #3, take a deep breath and level with yourself. What support are you going to need in order to make it through? Remember, your goal might require help from others. Who can you turn to when the going gets tough?
  5. Finally, step away from your goal until tomorrow and reread your answers to the previous questions. Imagine what it will feel like once your goal becomes reality. Sense your pride ahead of time.

While these simple steps do not ensure success, this method has helped many people at our Center overcome some incredible challenges, one step at a time. Essentially it boils down to this: picture the end result, live your dream, want it intensely enough and know you'll succeed. May your New Year's resolutions pave the way for a journey of health, happiness and inner peace - Mind Over Matter!

© 2000 Barry Bittman, MD all rights reserved

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 About The Author
Barry Bittman, MD is a neurologist, author, international speaker, award-winning producer/director and inventor. As CEO and Medical Director of the Mind-Body Wellness Center, a......moreBarry Bittman MD
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