January 29, 2003

Dear Sandra,

At the beginning of the year, I made a New Year’s Resolution list. I was horrified to come across it yesterday in one of my notebooks because I haven’t even started to work on any of my resolutions yet. How do I motivate myself to stick with these resolutions?

Unmotivated in Sherwood Park, AB

Dear Unmotivated,

It always amazes me that people seem to think that the onset of a new year is the time when they need to lump together everything in their lives that they want to change or improve and they lead themselves to think that they can fix their lives in the upcoming year. New Year’s resolutions are always done with the best of intentions, but they are rarely ever followed through with. I remember reading a story in a magazine a while ago from a gym owner who said that his gym is always packed for the first few weeks in January, but by the end of February most of those new people are gone.

Instead of thinking about what you want to accomplish this year, think back onto what you accomplished last year. Did you finish a year of school, lose ten pounds, make an effort to spend more time with your children, get a new job, learn to cook Greek food, etc:? Keep this list going throughout the new year and add to it, then instead of making New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, 2004 you can go back and read this list and be amazed at what you have accomplished. You may not bring about world peace or lose 20 lbs., but you will have accomplished some things.

If you still want to keep your New Year’s resolutions don’t just write them down vaguely by saying I want to lose 20 lbs. Write the goal down and have a strategic plan to follow. For example, I want to lose 20 lbs. this year, to achieve this I will exercise at least three times a week by taking the dog for an hour long walk, I will drink 8 glasses of water a day and I will not snack after supper. I’m being vague in my description here, but I’m sure you get the point. Keep a page in your notebook (or on your computer) with your goal listed at the top and everything you’ve done to try to accomplish this goal. There are two types of goals; product goals and process goals. Product goals are ones that have a definite end point, such as losing 20lbs by June. Process goals are ones that are indefinite, such as leading a healthy lifestyle. Keeping track of your goals can be more rewarding than actually achieving the goal because you can see where you started from and how you’ve progressed along the way.

Happy New Year


Please send all of your questions, no matter what the topic, to and I’ll do my best to answer them!

This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of