All right, the partying is over! If you are a typical American, you probably gained a few extra pounds over the holidays. And at some point, you may have sat down and thought about your 2005 New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you said something like, “this is finally going to be the year I get my weight under control,” or “this is the year I begin using the treadmill that has been gathering dust in the basement.” This is finally going to be the year you get yourself into better shape, both physically and mentally, right? Now ask yourself an honest question. Are these the same things that you resolved to do last year?

Being Specific

The problem with most New Years’ resolutions is that they tend to be vague and general rather than clear and specific. Typically, New Years’ resolutions are lofty and unrealistic. For example, a resolution to lose 60 pounds this year when you made the same resolution each of the past three years and gained 15 pounds each year, may be an unrealistic goal. Such lofty goals may energize you, but only briefly.

They may even help make you feel a little less guilty about having overindulged during the holidays. Don’t be fooled—motivation that is rooted in unrealistic goals quickly evaporates when the reality of your commitment to yourself becomes apparent (usually by February).

An important first step to successful goal setting is to clearly identify your goal. A well thought out goal is one you can commit to emotionally—one you can visualize yourself realistically achieving. A goal of “losing 30 pounds by May 30th through healthy eating and regular exercise” is much better than “I want to lose weight this year.”

The difference between a goal and a wish is that a goal is written down and has a due-date. The Goal Setting Worksheet below can help you plan realistic and achievable weight-management goals.