Tips to Achieve New Year’s Resolutions in Alexandria

Tips to Achieve New Year’s Resolutions in Alexandria

Advice on setting and reaching goals


Alexandria resident Terry Garret. “I really want to quit smoking and lose weight for health reasons. I just want to be healthier. I’ve taken the patch and that didn’t work.”


Retired restaurant owner and parade organizer Pat Troy. “[I always have] New Year’s resolutions. The most important thing is health, family and friends. We need to do more for others.”


Timothy Noel Castle, formerly of Alexandria, lives in Fairfax. “I’ve been … 20 years without a cigarette…. I want to work on my core with sit-ups and crunches. I go to gym and walk six to 10 miles a day. Your health is more important than all the money in the world.”


Larry Miller has been a resident of Alexandria for 52 years. His resolution is to not procrastinate. “I have a tendency to procrastinate,” Miller said. He spends two hours walking a day. He is stress-free. He’s been retired for 20 years.

Terry Garret wants to quit smoking. Timothy Noel Castle wants to get in shape. Larry Miller wants to stop procrastinating. And Pat Troy wants to do more for others.

The New Year is here and it naturally inspires people to make resolutions like losing weight, finding a new job and all of the above. Often times, however, people set themselves up for failure. By February, that ambitious plan to lift weights before work becomes no plan at all.

With a little retooling and help from others, New Year’s resolutions can be achievable. Here are a few tips from local experts to get started on the right track.

According to Executive Coach Jean Stafford, New Year’s resolutions fail because people never go beyond the “‘wish stage.’ It is about details. How are you going to lose those 10 pounds?”

Stafford suggests developing a plan based on the model of S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. “Being realistic is key for resolutions,” Stafford said. “Be in the realm of possibility.”

For board certified clinical hypnotherapist Ruth Ruskin, L.C.S.W., “resolutions are an opportunity to feel good if successful or an opportunity to look at why things are not working. Do you not have the motivation to go to the gym at 5 a.m.? What could be an alternative strategy for you?”

Ruskin suggests breaking a resolution down into steps on a daily or weekly basis and work them into a schedule. By doing so, tasks become less overwhelming and, more importantly, they become a habit.

Dr. Kristine Erickson, a wellness coach and personal trainer, agrees. Have a vision for the future but start small. Setting up a small, reachable goal will lead to bigger goals and that leads to confidence building and success.

Understanding the emotion behind the resolution is also important, according to stress management expert Dr. Cynthia Ackrill, a physician trained in neuroscience and leadership coaching. Why do you want to change? And do you have the knowledge to proceed with the resolution? Willpower alone won’t get you there, she said.

“It helps to be accountable to someone and not on Facebook,” said Ruskin. Identify one or two trusted people — especially someone with similar goals. Together, you become a co-motivating group.

Finally, understand you won’t be perfect. It takes a lot of work to change behavior, so “have compassion with yourself when you do this,” said Ackrill. If you fail, just start again. As Ruskin said, “The all or nothing approach never gets you to all.”