Getting Ready for 2012
– Celebrate successes – what went right in 2011?
– What went not-so-right in 2011?
– Re-evaluate what you want (what do you now know you want without a doubt?)
– Limit yourself to TWO resolutions
– Make a plan & build in accountability

Turning your attention to yourself now that the holidays are over
– Celebrate how well you celebrated!
– Give yourself a special gift now (either a post-Christmas bargain OR something more experiential like a massage, night out with a friend, long walk with your favorite music, juicy novel, etc..)
– Now turn your attention to next year – what do you want? Really truly want..
– Get into the right “head space” to make it happen
– Make a plan & build in accountability

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Ahh.. it’s that time of year. Time to buckle down and decide how we’re going to be better, live better and reach our goals in 2012. We’ve partied and indulged, and now the New Year is upon us. Time to get serious. Time to turn the page and remake ourselves. Right? Well, maybe.. and maybe not.

I’d like to propose a 4-step process to New Year’s resolutions. Yes of course, the traditional 1-step process (I want to lose weight! I want to quit smoking!..) is faster, but fast doesn’t always equal success. How many of us actually kept up with last year’s resolutions beyond February? Hmm..

So I’d like to invite you to take the long scenic route this year. Four steps. In order please.

1. Cheer
2. Jeer
3. Want
4. Plan

Let’s start with cheering. Look back on 2011 and write an exhaustive list (that’s right – until your hand gets tired) of everything that went right. Go ahead – brag – be proud of yourself. From little things to big things, take the time and effort to notice and appreciate your “wins.” Now share them with someone – perhaps a friend or a partner. Raise a toast. Raise a high-five. Hug it out. Have a “Wins of 2011” dinner. Celebrate the happy/accomplished/meaningful things that were part of your year. Acknowledge the good!

And yes, also acknowledge the not-so good. Go ahead and jeer, whine, cry, stomp, complain – you have every right to your feelings of disappointment. Again, a list might help. Get it all out. Now look at it with your “wise eyes”.. those are the eyes of the wisest part of you. What do you see? What did you learn? Did you learn that you need more sleep and the expectation of a morning exercise program just won’t happen unless you shift your sleep schedule? Did you learn that smoking is your way of coping with stress and unless you find an equally effective coping strategy, you can’t just quit because you know it’s unhealthy? Did you learn that saying “I want more work-life balance” is a wish and not a plan? Listen to your own wisdom – it has much to teach you!

And now my favorite of the 4 steps.. Want. Get really clear – crystal clear – on what it is you want. Do you really want to lose 10 pounds? Really? If you had only one year left to live, would you focus your limited time, energy and taste buds on dieting, so that you could wear a smaller size? Hmm.. Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t. Be honest. On the other hand, if this was your last year, would you want to wake up every morning with tons of energy, good health and enthusiasm for living the best day possible? And how would diet play into that? That’s an entirely different question, isn’t it? So with that in mind, get still, get quiet, go deep and figure out what you really want for yourself in 2012. Who do you want to be? How do you want to feel? How and with whom do you want to spend your time? Be choosy about your New Year’s resolutions. Be passionate about them. Go for only the ones that you would pick if it was your last year here. And limit them – the less, the better. One or two is ideal (you can always re-up in February or March and add more). But start with a laser focus on just one or two.

Planning. You didn’t think they would magically happen by themselves, did you? Sorry, no magic wands here. And planning is where the rubber meets the road. It’s what separates the set-up-for-success goals from the set-up-for-let-down wishes. The planning process itself will look different for every person and for every goal, but the key components are:
• Action steps (stepping on a scale is not an action step in getting fit – specific diet and exercise plans are). Focus on the forward action, not on the end-result.
• Measurement (now you can step on the scale.. but not too often!). How will you measure success?
• Accountability. Who and how will you let know how you’re doing? Studies show that accountability keeps people motivated and moving forward. Do what works for you – partner up with a friend or a professional or an online community. Just make sure that you inject a human element. You want someone to see you making progress and celebrate with you succeed and encourage you when you struggle.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year.. filled with good health, good friends, adventure, fulfillment and joy!

Irina Baranov is CFR’s Director of Communications and a Professional Life Coach. She can be reached at 215-382-6680 x3126 or