New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to improve yourself and your life. But they tend to have a big failure rate with most people abandoning their resolve by February. Ironically, the best way to sabotage your New Year’s resolutions is to call them resolutions. I’ll explain why in a minute. If you want your ‘resolutions’ to stick in 2012, this guide will show you how.
New Year’s Goals?
At any other time of the year, we’d call it a “goal”. For some reason, if you set a goal at the beginning of the year, it’s called a ‘resolution’. Resolutions tend to focus on behavior change (ie. spend more time with the kids) whereas goals tend to outline a specific achievement (ie. run a marathon). The difficulty with the word “resolution” is it gives you permission to be vague about your goals. You say, “I resolve to exercise more” or “I resolve to be a better friend”. It sounds good, but it’s not very concrete. Ditch the word “resolution” and call it a New Year’s Goal.
There are two critical factors when setting and achieve good goals:
- Your confidence in your ability to make the changes
- Your level of commitment to achieving the goal
If you address these success factors, your ability to change your life in the new year is increased.
1. Change The Way You Think
In order to change your behavior, you need to answer this question: “Why do I behave the way I do now?” Unless you address the root cause of what drives your behavior and choices, long-term change will be elusive. The truth is it’s your thought habits, especially at the subconscious level, that determine most of your choices and your behavior. So, whatever your resolutions, make sure you give yourself the support you need to change the way you think. Whether it’s positive affirmations, guided meditation, self-hypnosis, audio self-help, guided imagery, or subliminal downloads – if you want long-term success, you need to change the way you think.
2. Establish a Strong Commitment
Think beyond your goal and ask why you really want to achieve that goal. Ask yourself: What will I get if I succeed in this goal? Why do I want this? To help you lose weight, ask yourself what your weight loss will give you. It could be “I’ll be able to go running with my spouse again,” or “I’ll be able to play more with my kids”. Then take it to the next level: What’s the benefit of those things? With the example of weight loss, you might say, “It will give me the opportunity to spend more time with my spouse, which is hard since we’ve been so busy lately and we’ve begun to grow apart”, or “My kids will have more respect for me”. Go deeper and deeper into the why and you’ll discover your true motivation and inspiration. You’ll discover the commitment you need to succeed and overcome any obstacle.
3. Don’t Do It All At Once
Another problem with the term “resolution” is it implies you only set goals at the beginning of the year. We all have improvements we’d like to make in our lives. But if you set all your ambitious goals at the beginning of the year, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s important to find the time to address each of your goals. You’ll be more successful if you don’t ask too much of yourself at one time – especially if your goal requires persistence and will power. If you spread out your resolutions, it will improve your chances of success. For example, if you want to lose weight and get a new job, don’t do both at once. The stress of finding a new job will make it harder for you to stay on your diet.
4. Set The Right Goals
Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to set your goals. Take your time. Good goals should be reinforced every day, not on one night. If you outline your goals and think about them for a few days, you’ll find some won’t seem as important. It’s also a good idea to collaborate. Talk to people who know you and get their opinion of the goals you are setting. Their perspective can help you think through what’s really important. This process will help you set goals you can confidently achieve.
5. Share Your Goals
Talk about your goals with people who will be supportive and hold you accountable. To make things easier, arrange a nagging schedule. It may be uncomfortable for friends and family to ask you about your progress toward your goal. If you establish a regular nag schedule, friends will be more likely to ask about your progress and offer support. You can even nag yourself with a strategically placed note on your bathroom mirror or other visible spot. Remind yourself about the reasons you want this goal. A daily reminder or routine will reaffirm your commitment to reaching your goal.
Not Just for New Year’s. For Life.
Remember, goals are a process, not a one-time effort. They are a chance to change the way you live. Start setting your goals today because one thing is for certain: next year won’t be any better unless you do something to make it better.