Are you working on your New Year’s Resolutions? Or have you resolved never to make a New Year’s Resolution? At one point in my life I got demoralized and resolved never to make a New Year’s resolution ever again. Year after year I’d make my resolutions and would keep them only for a few weeks and sometimes only for a few days.
I later realized that I was living my life without focus. It was like going through life without a GPS! We all have the best intentions and the timing (new year, new start) couldn’t be better. The problem is that we place a huge amount of pressure on ourselves and focus on the wrong things. We tend to focus on the “what” not the “how.” When you are more concerned with the goal you set than on the specifics of how you are going to accomplish it, or even whether it is realistic and achievable, you can set yourself up for failure.
During the last week of December and the first week of January, you usually hear “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” “What are you going to work on this year?” So if you resolve to set successful New Year resolutions, focus on how this year. You can set yourself up for a year of achievement!
The Biggest New Year Resolution Mistakes
There are two common mistakes that people tend to make before they even start to make their New Year resolutions: they think about what they “should” do, rather than what they really want to do. And to make things worse, they think about what they should stop doing, rather than what they actually want to achieve.
Are you thinking…
“What should I do this year?”
“What should I stop doing?”
“What do other people suggest I should work on?”
Setting Your New Year Resolutions the Right Way….
~ What do YOU really WANT… ~ Not should do or should stop doing
To be successful at any change, you need to really want it. This way, you will make a resolution to which you will be entirely committed to and will be motivated to get done. You will not quit after the first setback or obstacles.
So the first rule of New Year Resolutions is only to make ones that you are committed to – don’t make a resolution simply because it is “the thing to do”, or because someone has told you that you should.
New Year’s resolutions have the potential to be very powerful. Everyone is setting resolutions and this external motivation and support, along with your internal motivation and your desire to succeed is what can make the difference between success and failure.
Eight Rules for New Year’s Resolutions
The following Eight Rules for New Year’s Resolutions will help to set you up for success right from the start. You will find challenges and road blocks along the way; however by planning ahead and following these rules, you will be in a better place to overcome them, rather than stumble and quit.
Rule 1: Commit to Your Resolution
To succeed, you must start with a strong commitment to make a change. Believe that you can accomplish what you set out to achieve. Successful resolutions start with a strong commitment to make a change.
• Choose resolutions that you really want to achieve – and make them positive.
• Announce your resolution to everyone around you – they will help hold you accountable.
• Take time to think about your goals — Don’t leave your choice of resolution to the last minute
• Ask yourself these questions:
• Is this resolution my idea or someone else’s?
• Does this resolution motivate and invigorate me?
• Does this resolution sit comfortably with other factors in my life, such as my values and long-term plans?
Imagery is a powerful technique for helping you commit to your goals or resolutions. Try picturing yourself having attained your goal. How do you feel? How do you look? Where you are, what you’re doing? How do others react to you? By visualizing yourself in the position you desire, you can reinforce your belief that you can do it and strengthen your motivation.
Rule 2: Be Realistic
The key to achieving goals is to keep motivated.
If you set goals that are too difficult, you risk failing. Consistently failing at something is profoundly de-motivating.
1. Think carefully before setting the same resolution that you set last year. If it didn’t work for you then, make sure that there is good reason that you can achieve it this year. What has changed? Do you have more commitment to make it work?
2. Aim for something that is challenging, but that you have a good chance of accomplishing. If there is any doubt, stay on the side of caution and expand your goal later if you want to keep improving.
3. Don’t try to do too much. There is no reason to set more than one or two resolutions. Anymore than that, and you’ll lose focus, and lessen your chances of success in any one area.
Rule 3: Write Your Resolution Down
A simple but powerful technique for making your goal feel real is to put your resolution into writing. More commitment and drive is created when we do this. You can write your resolution down on pieces of card or paper, and keeping it where you’ll see it often – on your desk, on the fridge door, or in your wallet.
Rule 4: Make a Plan
Just thinking about what you want to achieve is one thing, deciding how to do it is quite another thing. This is where so many resolutions fall down.
Start by envisioning where you want to be.
Then work back along your path to where you are today. Write down all of the milestones that you need to pass in between.
Decide what you will do to reach each of these milestones.
Rule 5: Be Flexible
Not everything will work out precisely the way you planned so be willing to make changes.
1. When creating your plan, try to predict some of the challenges that you will face. Make a contingency plan for the ones that have the highest probability, and mentally prepare yourself for others, just in case they come up.
2. Realize that your resolution itself may change along the way. As long as this is positive, that’s not failure, it’s reality. As your life changes, so will your goals, dreams, and desires. Remember Rule 1 (Commit to Your Resolution): If you need to make changes to the goal so that you continue to care about it, do so.
Rule 6: Use a System of Reminders
It’s hard to keep focused on your plan when you have many other commitments, responsibilities, and obligations. Having a reminder system is the best way to stay on top of your resolution:
- As I mentioned above, have your written resolutions visible at as many times of the day as possible. Leave reminders at work, at home, in the car, on your calendar, in your briefcase, and so on.2. Make sure that the actions you have planned are on your To-Do List (perhaps have a special section for them at the top).3. Set up reminders in your desktop calendar or subscribe to an email reminder service.
Rule 7: Track Your Progress
You won’t know how well you are doing unless you keep track of your progress. By building excitement around the little successes, you can keep yourself motivated, and keep pushing forwards.
1. Use a journal and regularly make an entry in it regarding your progress.
2. Note when you felt particularly pleased with your efforts.
3. Note when you felt down, or felt like quitting. Over time, look for common themes and decide if there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
4. Record challenges you faced, as well as things that went better than planned.
5. Look back at your entries on a regular basis, and use your past experiences to shape your attitude as you move forward. 6. Ask a friend or family member to call you on pre-defined occasions to discuss your progress.
Rule 8: Reward Yourself
Even the most committed person needs a boost, and sometimes that is best accomplished through an external reward. When you are developing your plan, make a note of a few milestones where you will reward yourself once you have achieved them. But spread them out – you want to make sure that the rewards remain special, and are not too easy to get!