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Brought to you by Restorative Health Therapist Heather Reid, LCSW. Heather is currently accepting new clients – Another New Year has arrived, and with January in our rear window you may already be feeling frustrated with your lack of progress regarding any New Year’s Resolutions you made. Making a lifestyle change is challenging, especially when you want to transform many things at once. This time, think of it not as a resolution but as an evolution. The start of a new year can be a great time to focus on your personal wellness goals. If you have decided the time has arrived for change, there are steps you can follow for your best outcome.

Focus on one behavior to change at a time. Unhealthy behaviors evolve over time and so do healthy behaviors. Many of us get stuck and overwhelmed if we try to change too much, too quickly. Try to choose one goal to focus on at a time. Once your attain success with your first goal you will have gained much confidence in your ability to succeed with your next goal.

Break down your goal into small, realistic steps that are specifically defined and can be measured. Is your long-term goal to lose 20 pounds within the next five months? A good weekly goal would be to lose one pound a week. If you would like to eat healthier, consider as a goal for the week replacing dessert with a healthier option, like fruit or yogurt. At the end of the week, you’ll feel successful knowing you met your goal. Write down your plan including details that you can follow such as the time of day you will walk and for how long.

Ask yourself, “How confident am I that I will follow these steps? What are the barriers I may face in accomplishing my goal?” For example, if your plan is to walk every day, then break down the details and post the plan where you’ll most often see it as a reminder. There are many apps and devices available today for this.

Involve a partner. Whether it is a friend, co-worker or family member, someone else on your journey will keep you motivated and accountable. Perhaps it can be someone who will go to the gym with you or someone who is also trying to stop smoking. Talk about what you are doing. Consider joining a support group.

Get support. Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and commitment. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking help from a therapist. Asking for help doesn't mean a lifetime of therapy; even just a few sessions can help you examine and set attainable goals or address the emotional issues that may be getting in your way.

Changing unhealthy behaviors is possible. Just remember that no one is perfect. You will have occasional lapses. Be kind to yourself. When you eat a cookie or skip a work out, you don’t have to give up. Prior to starting it is helpful to prepare yourself by acknowledging and accepting minor lapses are normal occurrences in any quest for change. Acknowledge there will be slips but be prepared to take a deep breath and get back on track.