01/04/2013 04:53 pm ET Updated Mar 06, 2013

Key Ingredients to Making a Resolution

Resolutions are a part of many people's life, and if you are one of them, then you may find these tips beneficial.

1. Take reasonable steps when making a resolution. The steps you take should match your specific personality, strengths, weaknesses, what you're capable of doing, what tools you have and your interests. Take steps that are not too big or too small -- this way there are no disappointments, and you can increase your motivation by achieving the goals you have. Sometimes to get to bigger goals, the best resolution would be to become patient and to be able to control one's instant need for gratification. For example, if you want to buy a house, you have to start by learning how to become good at money management.

2. Visualize your resolution and make it clear. I am surprised as to how many people cannot specifically define what their resolutions are and why they have them. The more you can identify and clarify your resolution and feel the joy of having it, the more motivated you will become to achieve it. For example, if your resolution is to have better quality relationships or a higher education, then write down a list of why you want to get that education or that date and put it somewhere where you can see. In other words, use your senses to see, hear, feel what it is like to have that thing.

3. Make sure your resolutions are yours and not someone else's. It is important to have resolutions that resonate with who you are and what you are capable of. For example, if you want that car because your cousin has it, the force behind it is not to help you feel good about achieving, but to compete. Competition does not provide a permanent internal satisfaction, because once you feed it, it wants more, and before you have time to enjoy this new car, you find yourself competing for something else. This can impose a lot of stress without much joy.

4. Make sure you have a balance. There are different elements to life that make people have a stable feeling of well-being. Relationships, financial stability, health (emotional, spiritual and physical), giving back to the world, having a meaning in life are all ingredients that affect subjective well-being. If you want to have happiness in your life, you have to make sure that you are focusing on different aspects of your life and planting the seed right. Focusing too much on one aspect of your life for too long and ignoring another may backfire, so make sure you are aware of your priorities, are looking at your life in the long term as well as short, and have a sense of moderation. For example, if you are thinking about making more money, think about how networking and learning to cooperate and give back can help you accomplish this task easier. In other words, learn to make things work together and learn to benefit as much as you want to be benefited.

5. Learn to discipline yourself. The foundation for any resolution to take affect is someone who has a disciplined mind and can control his behavior. That by itself can be a resolution, since the more you discipline yourself, the more consistent you become and the easier it gets for you to follow through your resolutions. Remember, self-control is the door to internal liberation. For example, if your resolution is to get into a serious relationship, then you have to discipline your thought and behavior to focus on one potential partner and make it work rather than being tempted by the many options out in the world.

6. Do less talk and more action. Many of you have probably encountered people who say a lot of things they want to do but don't do a fraction of them. You may want to have a resolution to have respect for what you say and to follow through. When you respect your word and follow through with them, you build a sense of trust within yourself that helps you become stronger.

Finally, when making a resolution, don't have unreasonable expectations. For example, a resolution like climbing a mountain in a day if you've never done it is probably going to fail. On the other hand, if you plant the seed right and start taking the right steps, then you can do many things you didn't think you could. The right steps are not the same as the biggest ones, and how you take your steps may not be similar to how others take it. Know what works for you and implement that.

Roya R. Rad

For more by Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD, click here.

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