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Be Specific, Measurable, and Positive continued...

The first statement is also measurable, which means you'll know where you stand and whether your efforts are having the desired result. Using the scale once a week will tell you if you need to modify your behavior in order to achieve your goal weight.

In addition, the first statement is time bound, with a deadline for achieving your goal weight and size. "Take a page out of sports," says Blair. "The time on the clock is important. If there's two minutes left in the game and you're behind significantly, you play aggressively, not conservatively."

And it's positive. "Never set a goal of losing or quitting," says Blair. "That empowers weakness. Position yourself forward on what you want to be or where you want to go, not what you'll give up."

Success Strategies

  • Be clear about what you want and your motivation. Blair, who calls himself "The Goals Guy," proposes a "1-3-5 system" to set you on the road to success; one "what," three "whys," and five "hows." The "what" is your resolution. Then come up with three reasons why you want it. "This will be very personal, such as increased self-esteem, peace of mind, wanting to live long enough to enjoy grandchildren, etc.," he says. The "hows" are the action steps you'll take to achieve your goal.
  • Make resolutions that are challenging, yet realistic. If you want to grow intellectually by reading more, resolving to read one book a year isn't something you'll get excited about and won't do much for your intellectual prowess. And resolving to read one book a day will probably spell failure. Knowing what will be challenging, yet realistic, might take some trial and error. Experts are quick to say that resolutions should not be written in stone, but are always subject to change.
  • Write down your resolutions, and post them where you'll see them every day. Writing your resolutions helps you clarify what you want. Posting them reinforces your commitment. "Goals out of sight become goals out of mind," says Blair.
  • Break down long-term resolutions into smaller action steps. For example, if your resolution is to be free of the smoking habit by March 1, determine that you'll limit yourself to one pack of cigarettes, the first week, one-half pack the second week, etc.
  • Seek drama. "If you are trying to quit smoking, listen to a person with throat cancer talk about smoking," says John Acquaviva PhD, assistant professor of health and human performance at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. "Also, listening to people who have lost a lot of weight often motivates people to stick with it. They think, 'If they can do it, so can I.'"
  • Celebrate milestones along the way. Experts say setting up a reward system is an excellent strategy to help you stick to a long-term goal. "For every week of diligently working out, buy yourself new workout clothes or treat yourself to a movie," says Acquaviva.

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