Eric Tegethoff

Washington News Service

SEATTLE — It’s the time of year for resolutions, but the question is how do folks make sure they’ll follow through?

Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, has a few tips for making good on goals this year.

Ferrari, who studies chronic procrastinators, says perhaps the most important piece of advice is coming up with a realistic resolution instead of something big. Otherwise, people could be setting themselves up to fail.

“The problem people have is they set such superhuman goals that when they fail, they think they’re subhuman,” he explains. “But no, we’re human, and human means we’re going to make mistakes.”

Ferrari also suggests coming up with a goal that benefits other people rather than just yourself. Mid-year goals might be useful as well.

Ferrari’s tips have been gleaned from research into chronic procrastinators, which he says make up 15 to 20 percent of the population.

As can be the case with people who have unfulfilled resolutions, Ferrari says chronic procrastinators are good at coming up with excuses. But he says persistence is the key to achieving one’s aspirations.

“So you wanted to lose weight,” he states. “You ate the jelly doughnut, you ate a half a box. Great. That’s life.

“Now the question is what are you going to do moving forward? Are you going to eat the other half, or are you going to say, ‘Now I’m going to cut back and try again?'”

Ferrari says social media is a powerful tool for holding folks accountable to their resolutions. He suggests posting on Twitter or Facebook even modest goals, such as walking four blocks.

“Ask your friends, ‘Hold me accountable,” he urges. “‘Contact me tomorrow to see if I did it.’ Well, you’ll get people that will ask you, ‘Did you do it?’

“You see, you’re much more likely to do something if other people know that you’re going to do it.”

Washington News Service is a part of the Public News Service, an independent member-supported national news service based in Boulder, Colo., that distributes public interest news and information. Support comes from grants, gifts and memberships from individuals, foundations, nonprofit organizations and businesses for social responsibility.

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