Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. They come but once per year, and cause quite a stir. Indeed, people talk about their New Year’s Resolutions quite freely. A small portion of people even write them down. But how many truly achieve them? The number is probably dismally small. Why? Because most people do a great job of talking about their resolutions, but don’t do such a great job of taking action on them. They often set themselves up for failure by biting off more than they can chew!
Take, for example, the most popular New Year’s Resolution: to lose weight (get in shape, exercise more, achieve greater levels of fitness, shrink a few sizes… any version will do!). What most people do is come out swinging. They join a gym and try to exercise 5 days a week, when they were formerly a couch potato and led a sedentary lifestyle (not only is this setting you up for failure, but it can be dangerous too!). They deprive themselves of every food they love, instead of eating a little bit of everything in moderation or learning their trigger foods and slowly replacing them with better choices. In other words, they try to do too much in too little time. They experience set backs, or fail altogether, which then leads to a defeatist attitude and they say “See, I knew I couldn’t do it.” They then give up.
Does this pattern sound familiar? If so, try a different approach this year. Try taking it slowly, one step at a time, and actually taking action throughout the year. How? Here are some tips:
- Start Small & Grow Your Goal Little by Little
Instead of looking at your goal or resolution as a major project, think of just the first step. For example, instead of thinking that you have to get your entire life organized, try keeping your appointments for the first week, clearing out your email inbox the second week, saying no to some tasks and events you can’t handle the third week, etc. Get the picture? Take it step by step so each smaller goal feels, and is, more manageable.
- Reinforce Goal Setting in Various Ways
Use different learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile) to reinforce goal setting. Perhaps you can journal about your New Year’s Resolutions (one of my favorite activities!). Maybe you prefer to set up a vision board to see your goals. Or you can listen to podcasts and audio programs that reinforce your resolutions. It doesn’t matter which you choose, only that you choose a way to reinforce goal setting that works for you!
- Ignore the Naysayers
Often, you are making actual progress towards achieving your resolutions or goals, but someone tries to sabotage you. Try not to let this derail your efforts! You need to stay the course, despite what they say. The famous life coach Martha Beck talks about surrounding yourself with people who can be your “believing eyes.” I love this idea! Adopt it and use it as your own. Stay away from the Negative Nellies right now, and surround yourself with people who believe in your goal and will help you achieve it.
- Be Accountable
Some of the world’s most successful behavior modification programs are successful partly due to the strong accountability factor built into the program. Find an accountability partner, join a mastermind group, or hire a coach. You need motivation and someone to share your trials and successes with. Having accountability systems in place can be a powerful aid in accomplishing the goals you set.
- Celebrate Success
Make sure to reward yourself along the way for achieving success, no matter how small. Set up milestones, and as you achieve them, figure out ways to motivate yourself to keep going. The more successful you feel at each step, the more apt you are to keep moving on the path towards achieving your full goals.