Springtime: Renew New Year's Resolutions (cont.)

Springtime Advantages

Spring, however, is a better time to set such goals, according to Butterworth.

"The weather is getting better," he says. "It's a less stressful time; we feel more energized."

Spring is also an ideal time to reassess your resolutions and modify your strategy for success, according to psychologist Stephen Kraus, PhD. Kraus is the author of Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil.

"I do it quarterly," Kraus says. "One of the goals my wife and I set this year was to get back into meditation. We got off to a pretty good start in January, but one thing led to another and we fell out of the habit. Now we're coming up to the end of March -- the end of the first quarter. So it's time for us to look at our goals and make plans for the second quarter. And we're going to recommit ourselves to that goal."

Ultimately, Kraus says, success depends on two things -- desire and the right strategy. The trick, therefore, is to renew your desire to achieve your goal and keep modifying your strategy until you succeed.

5 Keys to Reaching Goals

The best way to pursue success, Kraus believes, is to focus on five techniques.

  • Adopt a realistic vision of success. "No one can safely lose 50 pounds in a month," Kraus says. "Yet these and other unrealistic expectations about weight loss abound."
  • Adopt an effective strategy. "Focus on relatively short-term goals," he says. "Instead of focusing on losing so many pounds over the coming year, tell yourself, 'I'm going to eat vegetables four times a day and do at least 20 minutes of cardio a day for the next two weeks.' A lot of research shows the benefits of such short-term goals."
  • Renew your commitment. "I think if there's a problem with resolutions it's that people don't make them often enough," Kraus says. "Once a year is not enough for you to step back and take a look at your life and say, 'this is working well,' or 'this is not working well.' Do this at least quarterly, and better yet, once a month."
  • Don't despair. "People are much more likely to overlook their success and to beat themselves up over setbacks," Kraus says. "Instead of saying, 'I did pretty well for two weeks so I'm going to forgive myself for this one little setback,' people start to think, 'I've failed.' That sets them up for the snowball effect where one little setback snowballs into a complete collapse."
  • Learn from your mistakes. "As if the failures in the first four steps weren't bad enough, a lot of people then repeat the entire process," Kraus says. "They return to their unrealistic vision, pursue the same strategy without modifying it, and give up when things go badly. That's why by March, all those gyms and health clubs that filled up with new members in January are pretty much back to normal."