You say you
want a resolution

Willpower is not enough.
You must have a
master plan to succeed

Each year, New Year's resolutions bring the promise of quitting smoking, losing weight, getting rid of toxic relationships or becoming more organized. At the stroke of midnight, everyone wants to magically start out with a clean slate. But after a couple of months, only a few will have stuck with their commitments.

A lack of proper planning could be the culprit, according to Charles Stuart Platkin, author of "Breaking the Pattern" and "The Automatic Diet."

Finding resolve

There's help for those who want to keep their resolve:

» L.A. Weight Loss Centers Inc.: Provides free copies of "Dara Steiger's Quick and Easy Guide to Keeping Your New Year's Resolution" at its Kaneohe, Honolulu and Aiea locations. All who pick up a copy are also entitled to a complimentary consultation with a certified weight-loss coach. Guides will be available through Jan. 31. "Too often, diet resolutions are just prescriptions for failure," said Steiger, a registered dietitian. "My guide is a great way to help dieters lose 20, 30 or even 40 pounds before spring and keep the weight off for good -- without starvation, intense workouts, diet pills, fads or dangerous surgery."

» The Power of Intention: Discover how to change the energy of your life, acquire balance and feel at peace with the world at Wayne Dyer's three-hour seminar from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 16. The New York Times best-selling author's seminar is based on his recent book, "The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-Create Your World Your Way." Tickets are $30, $50 and $75, available at Serendipity Metaphysical Books 'n Gifts, 2885 S. King St., Suite 202. For more information, call 949-4711.

» The Power of Intention Study Group: Meets at 7 p.m. Wednesdays to review Dr. Wayne Dyer's "The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny" on CD, followed by discussion on the material, meditation and developing an action plan. Sessions one and two start with an overview of the power to manifest one's dreams, continuing to the Nine Principles of Manifestation. Sessions three to 11 explore each of the Nine Principles, guiding you to what's missing in your life and keeping from living the life you really want. At Serendipity Metaphysical Books 'n Gifts. The cost is $20 per session. A new session begins Feb. 2 and runs through April 27. For more information, call 949-4711.

Our need for instant gratification and results sets us up for failure, he said. The mistake most people make when they consider their New Year's resolutions is that they think change is simply about willpower. People think they can make a resolution and then just resolve to "make it happen," he said. "It's nearly impossible to effect real and lasting change in your life through the sheer force of your will."

And, those who don't take resolutions seriously will not achieve long-term success, he added. "Half-hearted attempts work against you," said Platkin, who believes confidence is one of the key elements for success. A person needs to believe that he or she can accomplish something.

"If you are going to give up so easily, it's probably better not to do anything," he said.

So before making that resolution, keep in mind that goals should be specific, motivating, achievable, rewarding and tactical.

New Year's Day could be a day to start mapping goals and determining how to achieve resolutions, Platkin said, just because it's a time when "everyone wants a clean slate, a fresh start."

During the most festive time of the year, it is difficult to make changes, but rather than procrastinating while one is still in high spirits, it's a good time to think about minor modifications that could last a lifetime.

The first step to successfully keeping a resolution is to come up with a plan of action. "Many people find this hokey and silly," he said, but anticipating obstacles and planning how to surmount them helps to minimize crises. Mistakes happen when rushing into something too quickly.

The next step is to put a relapse prevention program into place, suggesting that people need to get over the "all or nothing" theory of behavior. For example, if someone who has given up sweets breaks that diet by eating one cookie, they go off their diet.

"No one is perfect," Platkin said. "Know that you will have slip-ups."

"If you're going to give up so easily, it's probably better not to do anything," says Charles Stuart Platkin, author of "Breaking the Pattern."

There is no guarantee for success, but people can increase their odds of success by gradually making behavior changes automatic, like knowing how to brush your teeth or drive a car. All behaviors, he said, no matter how automatic, were learned somehow.

Mark Twain's quote "To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times" is an example of the difficulty involved in changing habits, he added.

Platkin understands the difficulty of making behavioral changes. "I was overweight and obese for most of my life. I must have been on 30 different diets," he said. The best strategy is to not get overwhelmed.

In his new book, "The Automatic Diet," Platkin discusses the principle of "automaticity" -- a psychological term used to describe the unconscious way we make choices for our daily behaviors. Activities like setting an alarm clock, remembering how to drive to work or buckling a seat belt are all activities that require little thought; we just do them, Platkin said.

Make minor changes, he said. For dieting, he doesn't recommend counting calories. For instance, if you go to McDonald's every day, that is probably not going to change, but rather than feeling hopeless, make healthier choices while there. Look for menu selections with fewer calories than what you're accustomed to ordering, he suggested.

It also helps to look at past behavior and past failed resolutions or goals, he said. "People who succeed have a common thread," Platkin said. "All of them recognize that they have control of the outcome of their lives."

It's important to take responsibility for one's life rather than making excuses for failures. Many people talk about being predisposed to obesity, but that doesn't mean that they can't try to be healthy and look their best, Platkin explained.

Look for clues that trigger negative behaviors, and make the necessary changes, he said. If you smoke after dinner or in the presence of other smokers, you need to come up with alternatives for those scenarios. Likewise, dieters shouldn't leave a box of cookies hanging around.

"You don't need to overhaul your entire life, but get rid of heavy temptation," he said.

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