Here at the start of a new year many of us are hopeful that this will be the year when we’ll make significant and sustainable changes to our lives — getting rid of bad habits that only frustrate us and finally adopting some new habits that support us in being our best selves.
I’ve come up with the following list of The 10 Things You Need to Do to Keep New Years Resolutions in the hope of demystifying what you need to do to make a resolution and keep it.
Of course these techniques can be used any time of the year … so even if you start out strong and fall off the wagon, circle back to this post and you may find just what you need to make the second time stick.
1) Make Only One Resolution
Your chances of success are much greater when you channel all of your energy into changing just one aspect of your behavior, rather than trying to tackle every area of your life at once. Make progress with one goal and then use that forward momentum to home in on your next goal.
2) Write it Down
Seeing your goals in black & white gets you out of your head and into the world. You could take it a step further and make a vision board but dont confuse an art project with keeping a resolution. The goal is only to provide yourself with a concrete way to see your resolution beyond your minds eye.
3) Avoid Previous Resolutions
Re-visiting past resolutions is like dating old flames it may be hot the first next time, but youll soon remember why you arent together any more. Set your sites on something fresh and youll steer clear of frustration and disappointment.
4) Make A Resolution True To Who You Are
The internet will be swimming with posts about the top 10 resolutions for 2014, and Ill bet even without looking you could guess what they might be. You dont need the 1st of the year to get back to the gym or finish your Ph.D. think about what you really want out of life and create a resolution to get you there.
5) Break Your Goal Down Into A Series Of Steps
We love SMART goals for a reason they work. Breaking any goal down into bite-sized mini-goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed increases your potential for success. Why swim upstream if youre not a salmon?
6) Share Your Resolution With Others
12-step recovery programs have a slogan: Youre only as sick as your secrets. Tell your friends and family about your goals and you will make yourself accountable to someone other than yourself. Hopefully your loved ones wont let you off the hook quite as easily as you might. This is a great way to confront any fear of failure you may have while also opening yourself up for help and support. Maybe it does take a village?!
7) Choose Something Positive
Its much easier to eat 3 healthy meals a week than it is to stop eating sugar forever. In addition, remind yourself often of why youre attempting what youre doing. Focus on the benefits associated with achieving your goals by detailing how your life will be better when you reach your goal.
8) Reward Yourself
It worked for Pavlovs dogs and Skinners pigeons so why tempt fate? Whenever you achieve a sub-goal, acknowledge your success. Were usually great at pointing out how and when we fail but often lousy at cheering ourselves on in the same way we would a friend attempting something challenging.
9) Set Deadlines
Someone said, The only difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline, and they were right. You can sit on your sofa dreaming of any number of things and none of them will happen without action and a deadline.
10) Keep A Journal Or Other Record Of Your Progress
This ties in with SMART goals and keeps your plans and progress concrete. When I had a workout buddy, we kept a simple spreadsheet of our progress and limits when lifting weights it was great to look back over the months and see how we had progressed. Youd think we could see it by the weights we were using, but somehow seeing it in black and white made it much more meaningful.
11) Expect To Backslide
Look, no one wants you to fail but if you expect to revert to your old habits from time to time, youll be less harsh with yourself if and when you do, and you can then treat any failure as a temporary set-back rather than proof that you are incapable of lasting change.
12) Youre The Only Person Standing In Your Way
If youre an adult, youre the only person who can control your life. No one is going to make you do anything. So every time you let yourself off the hook, youre saying to yourself, Id rather sit here and complain than get what I want.
Take it a step further and include the word deserve. We love to feel entitled when were focusing on things we DONT have how about using some of that privilege to get something we do want?!