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January 15, 2015
With the new year comes a clean slate and a time to improve and revitalize your life, or select portions.

Promises of a new exercise routine, becoming a nonsmoker, building up a savings account and repairing relationships were made at the stroke of 12. All were said with good intentions.

It's the second week of January. Have you fallen off the New Year's resolution wagon?

Don't despair.

Any time is a good time to reset, said Hanna Reising, program coordinator for Beaumont Wellness Programs.

While Jan. 1 is a "fresh opportunity to make positive changes," she said, it's not the only day. "There is no master rule that says you can't change at any time."

William Beaumont Hospital-affiliated psychiatrist Howard R. Belkin M.D. agreed.

"There is a lot of significance to choosing a date on which to make life changes," he said in an e-mail. "Any date can work, but significant dates such as one's birthday, New Year's, or other important dates give a seriousness to the changes one wants to make. It also gives the person a benchmark time with which he or she can compare progress over the weeks and months ahead."

Resolution vs. intention

A resolution is doing.

An intention is being.

Reising said, resolutions, such as working out more or eating healthy, the top two resolutions made, according to Forbes, are impactful and mean it is just one more thing to fit into your day.

"A resolution is a destination, acquiring a goal," she said.

An intention may be more creative, such as improving a relationship within the family.

"What I like about intentions is they are more flexible," Reising said. "You can always go back to it. There is no deadline to it. If you set a resolution and mess up you just quit."

To set an intention it shouldn't be too easy or too hard. "Make it challenging to you, but not too challenging so you won't do it," she said.

Incentives are a way to stay on track, Belkin added.

"Anything that you can do to help with motivation and keeping on track is important. Rewards help much more than punishments. Remember, however, that incentives cannot defeat the goals. The incentive for keeping on a diet cannot be a bowl of ice cream, but it can be a new pair of pants or shirt. Incentives help also reward you for small successes. If the only reward you anticipate is at the end, it is much more difficult to keep on track."


It's too cold to go to the gym.

There's one more Christmas cookie.

I really want this so I'll save more from the next paycheck.

There's one cigarette left in the pack.

The closet is too messy to even think about cleaning.

"Excuses are reasons not to continue on with the improvement you want to make," Belkin said. "They are rationalizations for failure. Oftentimes, they mean you were not committed to the change enough at the beginning. Getting around excuses requires realistic goals, small steps and true commitment to change."

Reising added, "Be kind to yourself. Set something that is believable."

Rather than beating yourself up about not keeping the resolution or intention set two weeks ago, and saying "forget it," make the corrective step and choose the positive step in the next moment, Reising said.

"Accept the fact that you will probably fail several times before you have your final success," Belkin said. "Be happy with the small improvements that you make and reward yourself for them. One failure does not negate all of the successes you have had or the ones that you are going to have in the future. The stronger your commitment to change, the easier it is to reset after a failure."

When faced with the disappointment of not keeping the New Year's resolution, "The next moment is the right time" to begin, Reising said.

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