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Here's to preparing, resolving to 'SOAR' in the year ahead
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Now that 2012 has come to a close and we are in a new year, there is a sense of starting over and getting that chance to do things right in the coming year. So many of us do want to find ways to better our lives for ourselves and for our families. The start of a new year gives us the opportunity to reset our goals in many facets of our lives, giving us hope for a better future.

The majority of the public (about 80 percent of the population) is considering ways to get in shape, lose weight or reach a new level of fitness in 2013. Perhaps it is because I hang out at a running shoe store, but I have gotten the sense lately that there is an urgency of sorts and that this coming year will be different somehow.

Earlier this month, the University of Scranton published a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology that examined New Year’s resolutions and found that only 8 percent of people actually kept their resolutions. Pretty depressing unless you focus on the possible reasons why and how those 8 percent were successful in keeping their resolutions.

According to their study, younger people were more successful at keeping their New Year’s resolutions than older folks. I am not sure why that is, but perhaps as we get older, we tend to be more self-reliant and take pride in ourselves for not asking for help when we need it.

At the start of a new year, when the “open road” lies ahead of us, there is a certain excitement surrounding the “fresh start.” It seems sometimes, however, we fail to include a way to stay accountable and to remain focused and committed to our resolutions throughout the year.

However, I have met people who realize it will be important to involve others as they are setting their goals from the outset. I believe that they are on to one of the keys to keeping their New Year’s resolutions in 2013.

I decided I needed to keep things simple and have developed an acronym to help me as I set out to pursue my own New Year’s resolutions. The acronym is “SOAR” in 2013:

Set specific and simple goals in writing.

Own your goals and stay on track one week at a time.

Allow setbacks to carry you forward.

Realize that you need others.

By setting specific, straightforward goals, we are likely to keep these goals in the forefront of our minds. Clearly written, specific goals also act as reminders when we face a weak moment. Technological advances today make it even easier to access reminders of our goals with us on a daily basis.

By taking responsibility for ourselves, one week at a time, we are more likely to see progress and be more successful at keeping our goals. I have found that setting milestones, at least on a weekly and then on a monthly basis, allows me to keep the goal out in front of me, and to see that the small steps along the road are taking me where I want to go. Rewarding yourself in small ways as you achieve those goals is also a key to success in staying on track.

Realizing that everyone has setbacks and making a plan ahead of time on how we will overcome the obstacles that will get in the way of achieving our goals can be very empowering. How much more powerful and successful we will feel when that obstacle comes along, and we realize that we already have a plan to overcome it.

One of my favorite authors, Zig Ziglar, once said: “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” Staying committed to our resolutions, despite twists and turns, is tough, but worth it.

By getting a “team” of people to surround us and support us during the journey into 2013, we know we will not be left alone when we are feeling weak, discouraged or when we feel like giving up. We need to surround ourselves with supporters who will be available when we need a “push” in the direction of our goals. By offering to help others achieve their resolutions, we can then become an interactive team of inspirational achievers in 2013.

If you have ever watched a bird soar into the sky, you may have gotten the sense of freedom and power. That is exactly how I intend to face 2013, with the SOAR in mind, feeling empowered and free to not only choose the goals I want to reach, but to find ways to get there and to have a team of encouragers along the way.

I want to reach the “finish line” by this time next year, achieving those resolutions with a team around me, and then have a plan to celebrate the successes of all members of the group.

I want to encourage all of you to SOAR in 2013. Write down your resolutions and prepare to SOAR!

Sandra Elliott is a physical therapist and owner of Georgia Game Changers Running Company in Richmond Hill.

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