Dear Annie: When I was growing up, my father used to tell my brothers and sisters and me how important it was to set New Year's resolutions. He would write down one or two goals for the coming year, and then periodically tell us how he was doing over the months that followed. Some years he failed, but more often than not, he managed to reach his goals.
What I remember most about him was his optimism. No matter how bad the year, he was always convinced that the future would be better. It has been six years since he died, and I miss him every day. But I especially miss him during the holidays, when he would tell us to expect great things in the upcoming year.
Too many people are cynical these days, and most of my friends scoff at the idea of setting New Year's resolutions. I don't care, though, because of my dad. I love setting them and being happy with my progress, regardless of whether I reach all my goals. When I have children of my own, I plan to pass along this tradition. I am writing to share my story and to ask for your thoughts about New Year's resolutions. — Inherited Optimist
Dear Optimist: It sounds like your father was a wonderful man and that his optimistic outlook was invaluable in your upbringing. I'm going to use your letter as an opportunity to offer 10 suggestions for reaching your New Year's resolutions:
1. Write down your resolutions. This will help you focus.
2. Be practical with your goals. Setting small, realistic goals will help you build confidence to seek greater goals later.
3. Watch how you speak to yourself about yourself and your progress. Positive self-talk is a must.
4. Set aside some uninterrupted time to really think about what it is that you would like to achieve in 2020 and the new decade ahead.
5. Don't beat yourself up if you slip. Live one day at a time. If you backslide, start anew the next day.
6. Track your progress. Even small victories are worth celebrating.
7. Reward yourself when you have achieved any of your goals.
8. Stay the course even if it challenges you. It takes 21 days for a new behavior to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality, so be patient and kind to yourself.
9. Spread the news. Tell your friends and family members about your goals so that they can hold you accountable. Partnership leads to progress. If a friend or family member has the same goal, then you could work to achieve it together.
10. Be persistent and never give up.
Your father is right. This next year will be our best ever! Happy New Year, everyone!
Dear Annie: My sister has been abused mentally and financially for many years, and it is getting worse with her husband now retired. Her self-esteem is so low, and I'm scared of losing this loving and caring person. But she wants her 18 years of marriage to work.
I want her to get a divorce. And I've been supporting her mentally and financially for years. — Divorce the Bum
Dear Divorce the Bum: Watching someone you love be torn down by another person is painful. Perhaps the most painful part is you cannot force her to leave. You can, however, be there for her without judgment. Tell her how much you love her, be supportive and find ways to build up her self-esteem. Talk with a counseling or support group or contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (800-799-7233) for more resources on how to offer support and to talk to someone about your concerns.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]