It’s February, which means each of us is well on our way towards doing all we can to make 2018 a great year. Most of us are striving to stay true to our New Year’s resolutions; most of us aren’t doing a very good job at keeping them.

Making resolutions has been a New Year's tradition since ancient times. Two of the most popular promises among the Babylonians were paying old debts and returning borrowed farm tools.

Wonder if your resolutions are among the norm? Here are the top resolutions made each year:

1. Lose weight/eat healthier

2. Life/self-improvement

3. Better financial decisions

4. Quit smoking

5. Do more exciting things

6. Spend more time with family and close friends

7. Work out more often

8. Learn something new on my own

9. Do more good deeds for others

10. Find the love of my life

11. Find a better job

However, even the sincerest resolutions often fall by the wayside in just a few weeks or months. Come June or July, they are as distant and unfilled as a summer (or this year, a winter) snow storm. Then, as the holidays come and go, we find ourselves setting the same resolutions all over again.

StatisticBrain.com reports that more than half of all resolution-setters are no longer keeping those promises made by the time the year is half over:

• Resolutions maintained through the first week: 73 percent

• Resolutions maintained past two weeks: 68 percent

• Resolutions maintained past one month: 58 percent

• Resolutions maintained past six months: 45 percent

Why do most of us share the same resolution experience? We set them; we attempt to keep them; we let them fall by the wayside; we feel failure; we do it all over again. Seriously, fewer traditions bring a sense of failure like New Year’s resolutions.

The primary reason most resolutions fail is that we focus too much on what we “should” do. Whenever “should” is involved in a decision it is usually in response to an expectation of others – spouses, parents, friends, coworkers, society. And most lists are written in a negative tone – we are fixing what is wrong with us. It is our do-better-next-year list; a reminder we really should get our act together!

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But really, don’t we already know we should eat healthier and exercise more, pay off bills, save more money, volunteer more often and complain less? Yes, we know we should; therefore, should is not enough to keep us on track and create lasting results.

So now that it is February, let’s trash the list of “shoulds,” and start a new tradition that will serve us better and help us get where we want to be. No more resolutions, instead ask yourself a few questions and jot down your thoughts from this outline or create a similar one for yourself.

1. Where do I want to be a year from now – in my career, my finances, my self-confidence, my family life, my home? Let your mind wander. See yourself in the life you want. Don’t worry about if it can happen, just allow yourself to imagine it, to see it, to write it. Picture this life often.

2. Focus on the why not the what. Why do you want to lose weight or walk more? Why do you want to be out of debt? Why do you want to take a vacation overseas? Why is going back to school important? How will your goals and wants serve you?

3. Write affirmations about who you are and who you can be. State them in the present as though they are. For instance: I am a successful businesswoman who owns a business; I am healthy and fit; I can run a 5k; I am respected by others; I am a good mom and grandma who puts my family first; I am financially fit.

4. Write a success list. For many, this is difficult because we often think successes must be big. However, successes are layered to create bigger successes. What we think is a small success is great because with every success we are more empowered to move toward our goals. Want to feel empowered and successful? Write down your successes for the day or week.

5. List what you really want (not should) to do and be specific. Don’t say you want to eat healthier; rather, for example, say you want to eat one fruit and two vegetables a day. If you are eating more fruits and veggies, you will eat less bread or sugar because you will begin to crave more healthy foods. Rather than saying you want to more customers, determine how many new customers you want and can accommodate – one a week? Two? Be specific.

6. Focus on “adding” good, not “stopping” bad. Don’t think about drinking less coffee; rather, focus on drinking more water. Don’t focus on complaining less; rather, make it a priority to say thank you to someone for something every hour. You get the picture! Add to your life, rather than take away from your life; it is much more fun, productive and invites success and happiness.

7. Revisit your goals every full moon, new season or solstice. When you look at your goals and record your successes often, you are more apt to achieve them. A new moon is a great reminder to dream big, move forward and celebrate where you are and look forward to where you are going. The summer and winter solstices are perfect times to plan for the next “season” of your life and be grateful for the past six months.

8. It’s about today, not tomorrow. Today shapes your tomorrow. Today is the day to live your best life ever; today is all we have, so embrace it. Today, focus on your “why” and your “what” will happen.

Is there a health topic you would like to know more about? Contact Starla S. Collins, health writer and public relations expert, at StarlaSCollins@gmail.com.

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