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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: Every New Beginning Is Difficult …

December 25, 2020

New Year's Eve is a very important day psychologically, as it marks the end of one easily discernable and substantial period of time and the beginning of a new one. And as is often the case with any new beginning, the expectation of the new, the hope of the best, and the anticipation of the different, fill us with optimism and push us to make important decisions for ourselves and our future. 

It's time to drop a few pounds and sign up at the gym, stop smoking or other bad habits, to follow a budget and save more money, to improve our personal relationships, not to make the same mistakes, learn something new. 

Unfortunately, most of the time the excitement of New Year's Eve passes quickly and the resolutions remain as just words. Research has shown that the big resolutions and goals we set for New Year's, in which we place many of our hopes for a better tomorrow, are soon abandoned by the largest percentage of people around the world. 

But why does that happen? 

A very important reason is that very often these are big and ambitious plans that we have not explored in depth. We have not evaluated them in relation to our real needs but also our possibilities, and we have not measured the parameters that could lead us to their successful realization. This is because many times the goals we set are general and vague. 

It is very important, when we set a goal, to make it as specific as possible and even to record it so that we realize it better. We are much more likely to achieve a goal that states, "next week I will lose one pound" rather than "by the summer I will have lost these extra pounds." 

In the first case, we have set a very specific and perhaps achievable goal that could have been achieved in a very specific period of time. If we succeed, our desire to continue is renewed, the motivation is strengthened and we continue the effort. If we fail, the frustration is not great, it is easy to see what went wrong and not give up. 

In the latter case, however, we have set a vague goal with a long deadline to achieve it. 

This does not help us to have measurable results that give us a clear picture of the success or failure of our endeavor. So it is very easy to postpone the effort for later, "when I have time" or to give up completely, since we are not increasing the motivation with small successful steps. 

Another very important factor for the success of the goal we set is to be able to focus on achieving it and for it to be realistic for us. Usually, New Year's goals are many and great, because we set them influenced by the emotional charge of the day and our need to change our lives. 

But when the goals are many and varied and we pursue them at the same time, we break up our attention and effort into so many unrelated pieces that this can limit the chance of achieving what we want. For example, if we aim to quit smoking and lose twenty pounds at the same time, we may get tired from trying too hard and give up on both. 

Finally, it is very important, after setting the goal we want to achieve, to record the first steps of our action within specific time frames. For example, if our goal is to lose weight, the first steps could be: 

1. I write down the foods I eat for a week. 

2. I get medical tests to find out my state of health and what I should eat. 

3. I consult my doctor or nutritionist. 

4. I make a list of the foods I will need based on the diet given to me by my doctor or nutritionist. 

With an organized action plan it is more difficult to give up the effort and fail to achieve our goals. 

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year with Health and Love. 

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