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How to make real change in the new year

Once again it’s the season for making New Year resolutions. Every year, millions of people go through the same ritual of making optimistic resolutions for the new year, but most of them are abandoned before the Christmas tree has been pulled down.

There are many reasons} why resolutions fail, but the real reason is that people tend to tackle only the surface of the problem, when they set resolutions. Like covering acne with makeup or paying the Visa bill with the MasterCard, making superficial goals just covers up the problem without addressing the underlying cause.

So this year, try getting beneath the surface symptoms and fix the real problem once and for all.

Here are some tips to help you get to the real source of your problems:

1. Decide what’s not working in your life, then work out how to fix it
Every human habit has one of two possible results. You either get something you want and you keep on doing it, or you get something you don’t want and you stop doing it. It’s just that simple.

And even bad habits offer some reward, otherwise you wouldn’t keep doing them. Some of these rewards are obvious, like the satisfaction of a cigarette. Some less obvious, such as what reward can you possibly get from procrastination on important tasks? Or from watching TV instead of exercising? In these cases the ‘reward’ is the avoidance of something more frightening such as a fear of failure or uncomfortable. But no matter how strong the urge to engage in a bad habit, you can stop yourself if you really want to.

So spend some time identifying the reward that your bad habit is giving you. Once you find that, you can more reasonably decide if you really want to quit the habit or not, and also how you can begin to beat the habit by providing alternative rewards for good habits.

2. Get direction.
Rather than wandering aimlessly through life, you need to have an overall direction that will ultimately take you to your nirvana.

Spend some time working out your long-term goals and dreams, and then make each future decision based on whether or not it takes you closer to these goals.

One thing you must understand is that creating real and lasting change in your life can not only be difficult, but it can be frightening too. Many people say that they want to change, but what they really want is to have changed and to get where they want to be without all the hard effort and pain of actually going through the changes. And even when we desperately want real change, what’s familiar and comforting now can be a stronger magnet than what’s better for us in the long term.

But by getting to the heart of the matter and by using the tips above, you can make it easier on yourself to really accomplish your goals. Once you’ve seen why you do what you do, it’s much easier to respond to it and make better choices, rather than reacting out of habit.

So this year, instead of fighting another losing battle with superficial and ineffective goals, try creating a life direction tuned to your values, needs and desires and make 2010 a year to remember.

You can find out more about how to achieve all your goals and desires by checking out these FREE goal setting tools and resources . You’ll also find lots of free tips and tools on a range of self-improvement topics from success to emotional intelligence.

Written by Sam Sanders

Sam Sander is author of several self-help websites on goal setting, to help people set and achieve their goals including financial goals, health goals and career goals.

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