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By Elena Donovan Mauer
It isn't too late to get your yearly tune-up in gear. Top life coaches and some real women share their infallible stick-with-it tips.
Make a Mental Picture
Visualize yourself once you've reached your goal. "This takes your focus away from what's holding you back and puts it onto all that you'll receive from your efforts," says Maryland-based life coach Lauree Ostrofsky. Whether your resolution is to be 15 pounds lighter, to cross the finish line or to be successful at that fantastic new job, can't you see it now?
Rephrase Your Goal
The problem with most resolutions? They're not positive, say experts. Ashley, 25, in Nashville, Tenn., kept hers the year she decided to say "yes" to everything, including party invitations and networking events. "It was seriously one of the best years of my life: I got a better job, I got to travel, I made amazing friends and my boyfriend and I fell madly in love!" Instead of saying, "I'm going running at 5 a.m., 4 times a week," say, "I'll slip into a sexy size 6 dress for my cousin's wedding!" Sounds a bit more fun, right?
Take Baby Steps
You need a plan, not just a goal. That means breaking it down into small steps to take along the way. "My resolution was to start my own company," says Lindsay, 26, in San Francisco, Calif., who launched a fair-trade fashion website. "My first step was to create a timeline." It's also a good idea to break down your big picture into smaller, actionable steps. "Set goals that seem easy, so you get to win," says life coach Lois Barth.
Celebrate the Small Stuff
Success breeds confidence. "Take note -- maybe even write down -- every time you make a step toward your resolution," says Ostrofsky. "You'll be surprised how often you are making headway."
Get a Buddy
Pair up with a friend who has a goal of her own and meet once a week to check in with each other. "Most people lack accountability," says Libby Gill, business coach and author of You Unstuck. Set up the support you'll need, which more than likely includes having someone to keep you motivated.
Invest Some Money
Consider spending a little cash on your resolution. "My 2010 resolution was to be a better runner," says Stefanie, 26, from New York City. "I joined a month-long running clinic. Dishing out $120 to run with a group twice a week helped me keep my resolution, because that's a lot of money to me and I refused to see it go to waste." Stefanie ran three 5Ks last year.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Don't stress out if you already fell from grace. The experts say it's important to get back on the horse as quickly as possible. Instead of getting down, use it as a learning experience. "If it's a recurring pattern, ask yourself why it's happening," says Barth. "Are you sabotaging yourself somehow or setting unrealistic goals?" If it's the latter, make a plan that includes small, doable steps to get you motivated.
Give up Something Else
Making time for your resolution usually means something else you do has got to go, but it shouldn't be something you love. "What are you doing that you're not passionate about?" says Gill. "Maybe you watch less TV or you stop serving on that committee that now seems like a chore."
Know Your Passions
As long as you know what drives you, motivation may start to come. For Laurie, 36, in Larchmont, N.Y., it was her son. "I resolved to prepare and eat organic, local vegetables. It was a challenge because I'd never really cooked before," she says. "My husband and I had been thinking about it for years, but the baby was the catalyst to actually do it."
Keeping a resolution can mean stepping outside your comfort zone -- and that takes a lot of confidence. Let go of fear, doubt, insecurity and nervousness. "Try a relaxation technique, whether it's meditation or yoga or prayer -- whatever de-stresses you," says Gill. "It will help you take one little risk at a time."
Elena Donovan Mauer has written for Self, iVillage.com, DailyGlow.com and The Knot. She's been on staff at Bridal Guide, Modern Bride and Lifetime magazines and is the coauthor of two books on relationships, The Good Girl's Guide to Living in Sin and Have Sex Like You Just Met ... No Matter How Long You've Been Together.
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