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Health & Balance

How to Get the Life You Want

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Step 1: Make a vow.

Quit procrastinating on this dream by being honest with yourself: Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper to create two columns; label one side "Why Now" and one "Why Not." In the "Why Now" column, list the reasons why it's the right time to meet the challenge (for instance, if you want to lose weight, one reason to go for it might be that you found out a friend has prediabetes, which was a wake-up call for you). On the "Why Not" side, note why it's not a good time (it might be unrealistic to commit to daily workouts right before two busy weeks of business travel).

Now, weigh the two sides: If you're ready to commit to your goal, write a promise to yourself at the bottom of the page, and put it in a place where you'll see it often, like on your bathroom mirror. If you decide that now isn't the time for this goal, decide when to revisit it. Write that aspiration in big red letters on your calendar.

Step 2: Find your cheerleaders.

"Accountability is the key to success," explains Fortgang. "You don't want to be left to your own devices when the going gets tough." Your support system can include family, friends, even someone you hire (such as a personal trainer). You might also want to try an online chat group like the stop-smoking site Quitnet.com, or check out "Drop the Weight for Good," to meet the women in REDBOOK's Real-Life Healthy Life program, and then form your own weight-loss support group (go to meetup.com/redbook for details).

Tell your pep squad that you'll check in with them at a specific, regular time with a status report (as in, "I'll email you after my weekly weigh-in every Friday morning") and when you need extra reinforcement ("The ice cream in the fridge is screaming to me—talk me out of it").

Step 3: Pat yourself on the back—regularly.

"Working toward your goal is an accomplishment in and of itself," says Fortgang. So reward yourself weekly: Put $5 toward a "new outfit fund," or give yourself a bouquet of flowers for staying smoke-free.

Be especially kind to yourself when you have setbacks. Instead of beating yourself up or quitting altogether, examine why you veered off course, figure out what you need to do to stay on track, and remind yourself that you're the smart, capable CEO of your busy life—and you have all the tools you need to keep moving forward! "Remember: You get to start over every day, every hour, every minute!" says Fortgang.

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