How many times will the words, “I resolve to...” be spoken over the next few days and weeks? When about 13 years old and a freshman in high school, I said the following: “I resolve to never make another resolution.”

I’ve made good on it, too.

It dawned on me 60 years ago that, for one thing, most resolutions are broken within a short time, and secondly, there is no reason to let the calendar dictate the timing.

Soon, a fortune will be spent on diet and exercise products and memberships. By April, most will be left by the wayside. Making drastic changes permanently is hard.

How many will quit smoking for good? Hopefully, many will.

Seriously, I hope folks are able to reach their goals. Cheering for you is my contribution. It’s crucial to have goals — setting them and breaking them down into baby steps makes them more manageable and realistic.

A family member of mine did this from May to the present. Her goal was not to lose “X” number of pounds. Her goal was to become more fit, have more energy and love herself, body and all. She achieved it by changing her lifestyle, giving her the best chance to keep it up.

You have my respect, admiration and support, whatever your goal is. “Save money and/or become debt free.” That’s a great one, because interest never sleeps.

What puzzles me is why Jan. 1 must be the starting date. Surely, everyone knew positive changes were needed long before New Year’s Eve.

There is not a single thing wrong with deciding to eat healthier, move more, spend less or stop smoking and other bad habits on any other day of the year. In reality, you have a jumpstart come January if you make positive changes sooner rather than later.

Losing weight has been a struggle for most of my adult years. Now that mobility is an issue, it’s even more challenging. If you are able to walk, do it and do it now.

Start a new hobby any day of the year. Learn something new or sign up for a class whenever you recognize the need or desire to do so. Seek help to give up a habit or addiction. Tighten up that budget, and stick to it if you want to build a nest egg.

Undoubtedly, 2020 continues to be a challenging and trying year for everyone. Don’t use that as an excuse for not setting goals and working toward achieving them. Set short-term, midterm and long-term goals.

Say you want to save money. Realistically, how much do you want to accumulate by a certain date? Break it down into small goals (stepping stones) to help you achieve the big one.

Incorporate things like buying a $2 coffee instead of the $5 one you enjoy. Then, put that $3 difference into a separate place and watch it multiply.

Limit the number of fast food meals you grab on the go, or limit eating out, period. Food prepared and brought from home is usually healthier, anyway, and it puts you in control of fat, protein, carbs and calories.

Stretch your budget by spending less in a bazillion ways. Some consider it a fun hobby to see just how much they can accumulate. Develop better spending habits, and every dollar seems to stretch further.

What is your financial goal? Do you want to buy a home, take a luxurious vacation or simply enjoy the security of a cushion? Do you want to be able to afford more charitable donations?

Create a mission statement. Whatever your goal, working toward it in small increments will enable you see and feel the results. A great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment will be yours. It’s exhilarating.

It cannot be overstated to set realistic, achievable goals. Say you need to lose 50 pounds. A reasonable goal of 1 to 2 pounds per week is ideal. That allows small indiscretions along the way and increases your motivation moving forward.

Not only do you want to lose the weight, but surely to keep it off; therefore, make lifestyle changes rather than following fad diets or trends. Thousands of books have been penned on this topic.

Enjoy every bite of healthy foods. Try new things. Set reasonable monthly goals of 4 to 10 pounds. Adding moderate exercise will boost your progress. Change of your mindset and incorporate a new, healthier lifestyle. It increases your odds of attaining that goal exponentially.

You’ve got this. By working in baby steps toward a long term goal, you can do it.

Now, repeat after me: “I will never make another resolution, but I will continually work on goals.”

Happy New Year.

— A coal miner’s daughter born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, she currently lives in rural Athens. Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her husband, Bob, and their spoiled-beyond-belief dog, Molly.

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