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Follow these steps to keep your resolve going strong all year

"Starting January 1st, I promise to get in shape and lose 30 pounds."

Sound familiar? With the coming of a new year, most of us feel obliged to plan some form of self-improvement. Roughly half of Americans take part in the annual tradition of making New Year's resolutions, according to the American Medical Association. And losing weight is the No. 1 resolution each year.

But regrettably, most people fail to fulfill the pledge. Why? They set forth unrealistic expectations, burn out, then go back to their old, unhealthful ways within a month. So the real test for effective resolutions comes on Feb. 1.

In one study, researchers found that 80% of people who had made New Year's resolutions were still going strong by mid-January. Six months later, that number was down to 44%. Now, while 44% seems low, the success rate was 10 times higher for people who had actually resolved to make changes versus those who simply desired the change. Simply declaring New Year's resolutions increases your odds of success, according to the study.

Sound familiar? With the coming of a new year, most of us feel obliged to plan some form of self-improvement. Roughly half of Americans take part in the annual tradition of making New Year's resolutions, according to the American Medical Association. And losing weight is the No. 1 resolution each year.

But regrettably, most people fail to fulfill the pledge. Why? They set forth unrealistic expectations, burn out, then go back to their old, unhealthful ways within a month. So the real test for effective resolutions comes on Feb. 1.

In one study, researchers found that 80% of people who had made New Year's resolutions were still going strong by mid-January. Six months later, that number was down to 44%. Now, while 44% seems low, the success rate was 10 times higher for people who had actually resolved to make changes versus those who simply desired the change. Simply declaring New Year's resolutions increases your odds of success, according to the study.

Write it Down

The first step to insure success is to make a concrete resolution and then write it down. Make a contract with yourself and share it with one of your ardent supporters. Be specific. For example, don't simply vow to "exercise more," specify how often and for how long you'll work out.

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