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If you haven't guessed by now, it's hard to keep those well-intentioned New Year's resolutions. Real hard! But that doesn't mean you have to fail. Not again. Not every year.

If you make a study of it, in fact, you might be surprised to discover that the key to our failure to keep those resolutions doesn't lie with our inability to remain loyal to our word, or self promises. But rather in the choice of resolutions we make. The "how we resolve" rather than the "what we resolve."

Case in point: If you decide this year to do a little more fishing than you have in previous years - a reasonable resolution - then you need to be specific about it. Don't be too vague, like "I want to fish more this year." And don't go overboard and resolve to "deep sea fish the Australian barrier reef, the Caribbean's Blue Hole and spear fish for white shark off the Vanuatu coastline - all before your birthday." In one case you are leaving yourself open to a very loose committment. On the other, you are making your goals a little too lofty and rigid; unattainable. With either choice, you have met defeat before you ever really get started.

Let's bring it down. Most Americans make annual resolutions about weight loss and fitness. Who doesn't want to shed a few pounds and get into better physical shape?

Yet for the majority of us, making such a great resolution usually ends up in self disappointment because we consistently break the promise to ourselves, often ending up on the opposite end of the spectrum - worse shape, less healthy living, and fed up with our inability to do something as simple as setting a goal and sticking to it. No wonder we're so bad about keeping our resolutions! We have trained ouselves down through the years to fail; to be disappointed.

It has gotten so bad in modern times that many of us have resolved to stop making stupid resolutions each year because we know we are destined to fail.

Come on! You're better than that. Give yourself a break. You can't start off the year geared up for failure and then expect to succeed! We have to return to the what I like to call the "basics of self promise," the art of making realistic resolutions with reasonable and attainable objectives. Remember, don't be too hard or too easy on yourself. Find the middle ground.

Let's say you want to lose weight this year. Let's look at some of the resolution choices:

Lose six dress sizes before summer
Lose 40 pounds by your birthday
Lose three inches off your waist before the Superbowl
Lose two pounds this year
Lose three pounds this week

Obviously the first three choices are not very realistic. Sure, you might be able to reach those lofty goals. But remember, if you fail, you are programming yourself for failure. In the fourth example, your objective is far too easy, meaning it's easy for you to put off doing doing today what you "can easily accomplish tomorow."

But look at the last choice. Losing three pounds by the end of the week is not an impossible task. Neither is it an easy one. But it is one that extends both a challenge and a realistic goal. You can lose three pounds in a week if you watch your diet carefully and exercise more rigorously. You know you can. You've done it before.

Now while it's true that losing three pounds isn't going to change your dress or trouser size overnight. But if you did it this week, you could do it next week too, and the week after. Whoa! That's nine poinds in three weeks. Keep that up for three months and you've lost 35-40 pounds - and that relates to a smaller waist size no matter how you look at it.

The same holds true for exercise goals. Can you expect to be doing 100 sit ups by the end of the week? Maybe not. But if you can do ten by the end of the first week and fifteen by the end of the second week, it won't be that long until you are doing 100 sit ups regularly.

And the most important benefit to this kind of resolution solution is that you "feel good" about it. Wow, you actually can keep a resolution. Now you can go forward with the confidence that you can achieve your goals. You can make and keep up the effort required to accomplish your objectives. Call it a win-win scenario. You are programming yourself to win by accomplishing your smaller and more realistic goals.

Sounds easy doesn't it? Well, while it's not impossible, it isn't easy. You must make up your mind that you must have the same committment to losing three pounds as you do to losing 50 pounds, and then remain fanatical about achieving the lesser goal. The difference is that you can succeed with one and are sure to fail with the other. And that will make the difference in the long run.

And stop worrying about "blowing" it. We are human, you know. At least most of us are. And some degree of failure is inevitable. When you blow it this week and gain two pounds instead of losing three, forget about it! Start the next week fresh as if it never happened.

The Bottom line: set your goals and objectives, your resolutions, at a reasonable level. And don't be afraid to adjust them as time and need requires. After a couple of weeks if you can't lose three pounds every week, change it to five pounds every other week. Or five pounds every month. Again, don't be too easy on yourself, but more importantly, don't be too hard!

Try it for a month and chances are good you'll agree, resolution solutions are not impossible to find. You just have to be smarter than you were before. Come on! You can do it!

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