Have you given up making new year resolutions because you never stick to them? Go on, have another try – but this time follow our advice and perhaps you’ll succeed.
People don’t like change, it’s easier to stay with what’s familiar. The more change you try to take on, the more challenging it is. But the beginning of a new year is an opportunity to look objectively at your life and a good time to make changes. It’s when many people are inspired to focus on making resolutions for the coming year.
The trouble is if you don’t stick by them you become discouraged. If you repeatedly find when the next December 31 comes round that you are no closer to achieving your new year resolutions you need to look at how you are going about your resolution making.
You might set high goals for yourself, things like saving money, being happy, getting in shape and then wonder why you never attain them. Instead you feel guilty and ineffectual. Goals are for achieving. Reaching goals is an incentive to setting more goals. So they need to be reasonable.
Including everything you can think of that you want to change is unreasonable. So is making resolutions that are ridiculously easy to keep.
So, what’s the secret?
It surely has to be having a plan of action, a plan that will tell you what to do and how. Setting a goal without formulating a plan is merely wishful thinking. It must translate into clear steps that can be put into action.
Seven steps to making your resolution stick
1. Start right away
It’s important to begin creating your plan immediately. If you’re like most people, then you’ll have a limited window of opportunity during the first few days of January when you feel really motivated.
2. Make a plan
Say you decide you want to stress less about your work over the next year.
Think how you are going to go about this. Are you going cut back or change your hours? Talk to your boss about it? Delegate some of your workload? Or are you going to change your approach and manage the stress better? Does this mean you will learn relaxation techniques or take up a hobby? The more you plan, the better your chance of success.
3. Write it down
Write down your resolution and your plan of action. If you want to change the wording as time passes that’s fine, write that down too.
4. Quantify it
Be specific. Being too vague only makes it harder. If your resolution is to lose weight, (and this is one of the most common resolutions of all), work out what your ideal weight would be? How much weight do you need to lose? How much is that a month?
5. Set a deadline
The timespan needs to be specific too. Resolutions that are to be achieved “as soon as possible” are too vague. Making a deadline defines your commitment. With no self-imposed deadline it’s too easy to postpone getting started.
6. Be realistic
You can only accomplish a certain amount within a period of time. Don’t saddle yourself with unrealistic resolutions that will only spell failure later on. Nothing big gets accomplished in one day. Resolutions are set in one day, but accomplished with a hundred tiny steps that happen throughout the year. New Year’s resolutions should simply be the starting point.
7. Be flexible
Expect that your plan can and will change and incorporate this into your big picture. Sometimes the goal itself will even change. Recognize the partial successes you are making at every stage and acknowledge these incremental successes as they occur.