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Letter from the Editor | Making or breaking New Year’s resolutions

Whether you’re looking forward to a fresh new start or just excited to party while watching a giant ball drop from the sky amidst thousands of cheering onlookers, one thing is for sure: 2016 is coming to an end.

Many people like to begin the new year with the ongoing tradition of the hopes, dreams, goals and mountains known as New Year’s resolutions.

These resolutions often vary in severity and length. They can be as vague as losing an undetermined amount of weight, or something more specific such as quitting smoking. Far too often, these resolutions turn into disappointments only weeks into the new year.

In 2015, Psychology Today made a list of five reasons why last year’s hopes and dreams turn into this year’s setbacks.

The list included expectations not being realistic — you probably should not try to lose 30 pounds in 30 days — resolutions not being properly defined, not having the right mindset, lack of time management skills and living distracted. 

Along with the reasons why many resolutions fail, Psychology Today also gave helpful solutions, such as specifying the desired outcome. 

Don’t just say “I’m going to make more time for myself,” you should clearly specify how you are going to make that happen. Psychology Today suggests making resolutions S.M.A.R.T — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Visualize exactly what the end point looks like, and then figure out how you’re going to get there.

Highlight and categorize the obstacles. Face it, very few things in life are simple and if you make plans for an entire year, it’s likely there may be a few hurdles. Look for major pitfalls before they happen so you may be able to counteract them.

Identify the human factor. We’re only human, and we are impacted by those around us. Make sure you’re hanging out with the right crowd that will help you achieve your goals.

Find the alternatives. Have a ‘Plan B.’ For example, if you find yourself unable to completely quit smoking, give yourself a cutback goal.

Take disciplined action. Keep track of your progress and hold yourself accountable for your actions.

It’s probably not the best idea to make a New Year’s resolution a few minutes before the ball drops, especially after having a few glasses of champagne. Take time to plan these things out and think them through.

I am all for personal growth, but I think it should be an ongoing process.

For me, making a goal to start right after the ball drops puts a lot of unneeded pressure and stress on the new year.

I have the ‘don’t put off tomorrow what you can get done today mindset. Let personal growth flow from one year to the next, without making a huge fuss over one specific day. Having said that, if making a huge deal over that one day is what helps you get motivated, go for it.

No matter what your plans are after the ball drops, remember to live in the moment and have fun while doing it. Happy New Year.