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Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: A New Approach to Old Resolutions

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The ball dropped. Confetti is swept. The lights and ornaments are packed away for another year.

It's 2015 -- and January doldrums are setting in.

Like many other New Year's "resolutionists" you may be stuck in old habits, confronting the realization that change is harder than it looks. Whether it's losing weight, exercising more, finding new love or a new job, a study shows that by the first week in January almost 25 percent of us have given up.

Many of my patients feel low and frustrated at this time of year. The seduction of a "New Year/New You" is replaced by the aggravatingly familiar "Old Me/Poor Me."

Don't beat yourself up. Rather, consider these suggestions for getting unstuck and extend the promise of change and self-fulfillment into every day of the year.

Shake It Up. Change usually involves giving something up. Old habits are like a warm, cozy blanket or an old familiar friend. We are very attached to them. To initiate change, build a new relationship with something completely different, perhaps something you've never even considered. If you're a lawyer, take an adult education animation class. If you're a creative type, go to a business lecture. Do the opposite of what you normally do. Shock the system and get your juices flowing!

Don't be strict. Few people hit the ball out of the park the first time at bat. Prepare for set-backs once in a while, and don't blame yourself or view mistakes as weaknesses. Each time you "get back on the horse" you will feel stronger and build mental toughness and resilience, which studies show is the key to success.

Don't hibernate: Loneliness at this time of year may lead to sadness and sabotage your desire for change. Two days in the house is the limit -- get outside and take a walk, see a movie, sit in a café. Even if you aren't feeling social, push yourself to engage with the outside world. If you're out of the house, you're less likely to be living inside your head.

Buddy-Up. We all need a champion, someone on our side, reminding us we can succeed. If you need help or encouragement, ask for it. Finding help is necessary for success and is never a sign of weakness. Most important is finding someone who roots for your success but also appreciates you just the way you are.

Tiny victories. Each time you do something outside of your norm, you will feel stronger and more confident encouraging you to continue the process of change with greater enjoyment and optimism. Before you know it, you will have made tremendous progress.

Never mind about those tired old New Year's resolutions. Allow yourself the opportunity to initiate change any day, any time by moving away from your comfort zone. Hold in mind the old and new simultaneously. Embrace both who you are now, and who you strive to become.