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’. There one problem with these ‘resolutions’ we set at the beginning of the year. When we think of resolutions, we tend to focus on behavior change (‘spend more time with the kids’) rather than specific achievements (‘run a marathon’). Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that except that we have a tendency to be vague when we set goals to improve our behavior. When we say, ‘I resolve to exercise more’ or ‘I resolve to be a better friend’. It sounds good, but it’s not very concrete. Therefore, it would serve you well to start referring to them as “New Year’s Goals” instead (Although there’s a problem with the “New Year’s” part of that as well, which I’ll explain below.)
The Critical Success Factors
We all have a list of improvements we want to make in our lives. When the time comes to resolve to make those desires a reality, we have to consider what it is that will make us successful in that endeavor. Well, studies have shown that there are two factors that are most important in determining how successful you will be at achieving your 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. Therefore, the following list of tips were chosen specifically to help you address those two factors and help set you up for success.
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 that 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. There are a variety of tools available to help you do just that. Here’s a list of our programs that are perennial New Year’s favorites. They employ the perfect blend of positive affirmations, guided meditation, self-hypnosis, guided imagery, and subliminal messages – if you want long-term success, these programs will help you 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? For example, one of our most frequently asked questions is “Do you have any programs to help me lose weight?” If that’s one of your goals, ask yourself why you really want to lose weight. It could be ‘I’ll be able to go running with my spouse again,’ or ‘I’ll save money on my life insurance premiums.”
Those are good reasons, but then take it to the next level. What’s the benefit of those things? In this case, you might answer, ‘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 ‘With the money I save I can start putting money away for my children’s education.’ Each level you go to, you’ll notice it gets more personal and more important. So, for each answer, again ask why. Go deeper and deeper into the why. As you dig deeper, you’ll discover your true motivation and inspiration. It’s at these deep levels that you’ll discover the commitment you need to succeed and to overcome any obstacle.
3. Don’t Do It All At Once
Another problem with the term ‘New Year’s 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. In fact, one study showed that even small incremental loads on the brain can significantly hinder the mind’s ability to stay focused on a goal and maintain willpower.
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 something that’s important to you 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 as they did when you wrote them down. 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.
Other Good Advice
This article is not intended to be a comprehensive list of everything you need to know about setting and achieving New Year’s Resolutions. I really just wanted to focus on a few things that are most important and typically overlooked. However, I’d be remiss not to mention some of the other important tips that can be very helpful. So here’s a quick list of a few other things you should keep in mind:
- Make sure your goals are realistic and be specific about what you want to achieve
- Make sure your goal is measurable and track your progress
- Write down your goals
- Set short and medium term milestones you can celebrate along the way
- Anticipate likely setbacks and have a plan for coping with them
- Reward yourself along the way
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.
Please feel free to share your thoughts below! I’d love to hear from you!
Happy New Year!