Most New Year’s Resolutions go the way of the Dodo. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make one, though. When you schlumph along doing the same old, same old, you stagnate, which surely isn’t what you want. That just grinds you into a rut and the only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions (borrowed from Ellen Glasgow, that one).
So, to keep improving, commit to making some positive changes. Then, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.
Make your resolution powerful by writing it down. Research consistently shows that people who write down their goals are far more likely to achieve them that people who just think about what they’d like to achieve.
Write your resolution down in clear words and put it where you’ll see it. Go ahead — Stick it on the bathroom mirror or put it on your bedside table where you can see it before you fall asleep and when you wake up. The more you see it, the more it imbeds itself into your subconscious, which makes it easier for the Universe to conspire to help you make it happen. Plus, when events conspire against you, as they do, having your goal in sight means you won’t lose sight of it.
Make your resolution realistic. Not too easy or you won’t bother and not too hard so you don’t give up before you begin. Go for something you can achieve with a bit of effort. Make sure you have enough background information and knowledge to succeed at it and that you’re willing to pay the price to carry it out.
Make your resolution a doing resolution, not a being resolution. In other words, don’t resolve to be trim, taut and terrific but resolve to lift weights three times a week and go for a 40-minute walk every day before work. Then stick to your commitment.
Warning: You may run into sabotage from yourself or from your loved ones.
We’ve already agreed that you won’t make your resolution so easy you do it effortlessly and automatically. Building a new habit takes time and effort. Remind yourself of why you set your goal in the first place. Let someone you know and respect who has already achieved it be your inspiration. Turn your self-talk into your biggest motivator and make sure it’s encouraging and supportive. Messed up one day? One week? Don’t worry. Hop back into your newly-forming-but-still-fragile habits. Motivation gets you started. Habits keep you going. So let me say it again: Stick to your commitment.
When it’s others who seem determined to put you back in your box, remember that it’s much easier for them when you’re predictable. Your new habits might unbalance what they’ve come to expect and feel comfortable with. So don’t make them too uncomfortable by too big a change. You might want to tell them what you’re doing and why so lessen their resistance and maybe even garner their support. And make sure your resolution doesn’t require them to make any accommodations, adjustments or changes.
There you have it: The low-down on how to make your New Year’s Resolution succeed. Over to you — Go for it!