Can you remember what your New Year’s resolutions were last year? How did that work out for you? Let’s see, mine were: to be less judgmental, and to slow down and take myself less seriously. No easy task for the hyper-vigilant monster that dwells deep in (and, unfortunately, outside) my subconscious. In the hopes of luring and capturing this beast of burden, I did what I do every year. I ritually wrote, and spoke aloud my resolve to slay whatever dragons that seemed to genuinely threaten my overall peace of mind and freedom of being. (And then threw in a little petitionary prayer that I would have enough discipline to remember what I just denounced.)

For some of us the ritual of setting New Year’s resolutions is an attempt to temporarily assuage the harsh reality of our lifestyle, for others a gleeful renunciation of inconsequential nonsense because…we can. Yet statistics show us that an overwhelming 40% of folks who resolve to better themselves actually achieve their goals! Here are some helpful tips from an enthusiastic veteran of this annual tradition that can help you succeed, too!

1) First, you may want to review your last attempt at setting your intentions. Were you successful? Why, or why not? Maybe they were too vague, or not totally sincere, or perhaps a tad unrealistic. Setting achievable goals is an art. Anyone can set them, but is a different thing all together to achieve them. One of my favorite approaches to success is, rather than trying to hit a home run, just concern yourself with getting on base, keeping your eye on home plate all the while!

2) Want it, bad! I notice when I pick something I want to exclude, heal or change about myself or my life, I am almost always successful when I really and truly want it! Therefore, I am willing to stretch myself and do what it takes to make it happen. So you gotta ask yourself, how much do you really want it?

3) Make a public declaration! You don’t need to alert the press (unless, of course, you feel the need), but you might want to gather a few friends (one could work) and declare your resolve. Surrounding yourself with supportive people is an essential part of any success; always has been, and, as far as I can see, always will be. Got cheerleaders? If not, get some! They rock! The more people you have devoted to you succeeding, the better!

4) Post your goals where you can see them! For something to become a habit it takes 40 days of repetition. YES, that’s forty days of reminding yourself who made those annoying goals in the first place. So tack ‘em, nail, plaster ‘em up—the more the better. Put ‘em in a place you will see, until they become as habitual as brushing your teeth. Good idea, put ‘em on your tooth brush. Buy a bracelet, or make something you will wear every day! Get creative. My girlfriend gave me a teddy bear with a timer to help me take timeouts! Silly, maybe? It works for me!

5) Get back on the horse! Just do it! Look, no one is perfect, and this is never the objective. It’s about practice, about replacing self-defeating habits and behavior with juicy, practical alternatives that move you towards thriving. So, you fall off the horse, brush yourself off and get back on! The sooner, the better. Don’t waste your time beating yourself up. There is no proof that it helps, and is usually a unproductive waste of time!

6) Half time! Mark your calendar/iPhone/whatever, six months out to check in with yourself! Heck, mark your calendar every month with a pop-up. Send yourself an evite! Hey buddy, how’s that resolution to quit____coming? Maybe it’s time to stop and honor your 3-to-6-month-old clean lungs, slimmer waistline, better attitude, with a little electronic pat on the back! Set it up in advance. Especially if you’re like me, I love little surprises that remind me to feel good about myself!

7) Reward yourself! You deserve it! Think of something that will motivate you throughout the year. Something you want for yourself or maybe your children. Maybe start a retirement or money-market account with all the money you are saving by not buying cigarettes or by partying less (drinks are at least $10 a pop in a club), or taking that money and investing it into a life coach or therapy to help support you in your future success! Taking that vacation you have always wanted. Whatever helps motivate you in healthy ways! As the great reverend said: If not now when? If not you, who?

And, in case you were wondering, yes, I have been less judgmental, and have noticeably slowed down, and am doing my damndest to take everything (including myself) less seriously! As I speak I am sitting in Carmel Valley just overlooking the ocean, about to take a walk with my husband and our dog, Bella, our treat to ourselves for a job well done in 2009. Cheers and blessings for a phenomenal 2010!

January 1, 2010

Author's Bio: 

Maryanne Comaroto is an internationally known relationship expert, talk show host and author. Her weekly live radio talk show reaches millions of listeners in the U.S. and around the world. Maryanne's philosophy is "Great relationships begin within!"

She leads popular workshops and seminars for men and women, and has had a private practice as a clinical hypnotherapist for more than 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning memoir Skinny, Tan and Rich: Unveiling the Myth. Her latest book, Hindsight: What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers, outlines the 14 critical questions to ask before you get intimate in a relationship and gives the reader six tools for their Relationship Toolbelt.

Maryanne is also the founder of a leading non-profit, The National Action Organization, a 501(c)3 organization committed to changing the way our culture values women.