If you’ve fallen off the ‘goal’ wagon already, you’re not alone. People often make resolutions for the new year and them drop them – some, almost immediately.
Last night at a networking event, I asked several people if they had made New Year’s resolution. One woman responded to the question with a shameful roll of her eyes. I knew immediately that she had made at least one resolution, but was feeling guilty because, in her mind, she had broken her promise to herself and we weren’t even ten days into the new year.
There are several problems with New Year’s resolutions, so let’s address those problems and design solutions for them.
Problem #1 – Many resolutions are spontaneous & inauthentic
You’re at a New Year’s Eve party, the clock strikes midnight, everyone kisses their date, raises their glass for a toast and then someone blurts out a resolution. Not to be outdone, someone else makes one.
Soon the whole crowd is making ‘promises’, you’re caught up in the moment and before you know it, you’ve made one too.
Three days later, there you are thinking “Why on earth did I way that?!?!? Maybe no one will remember.”
Many people get trapped in just the same way.
Even if you are more deliberate about your resolutions, you can sill lose your focus pretty quickly if you don’t implement the ideas laid out here.
Solution #1 – Know your Dream Destination
Whether you were sincere and thoughtful or just excited and off-the-cuff, step back and consider how you want your entire life to turn out. Think of how your life would look and feel if, ten years hence, things had gone far beyond your wildest dreams. Create a long-term context for your life and your year-to-year resolutions will have more meaning and staying power.
Problem #2 – No structure
Attitudes and behaviors shape our lives. When you make a resolution, figure out which new behaviors you’ll need to incorporate in order for that resolution to become a reality. If you want to lose weight, don’t delude yourself into thinking that because you’ve said so that it will happen. You have to change your eating habits and become more physically active (but you probably already know that).
Solution #2 – Calendarize those supportive actions
Figure out when you’re going to exercise and mark the days and times on your calendar. Plan exactly which day you’re going spend with your children and/or spouse if you’ve committed to more family time. Decide exactly what you’re going to do differently to rip yourself away from the office. Then stick to it.
Tell people what you’re committing to.
Most of us are better at delivering on commitments we’ve made to others than those we’ve made to ourselves.
Problem #3 – No support
We fall off the wagon for a variety of reasons. Often it’s because our fears kick in. Sometimes, it’s our own inertia. Incorporating new behaviors into our daily life is upsetting on some level. And our brains will come of with clever reasons (excuses) why now isn’t a good time to get started.
Solution #3 – Get an accountability partner
Tell someone else about your resolution, especially those that stand to benefit from your new behaviors. Pick someone who kind of scares you, who won’t let you off the hook easily when you come up with those rational-sounding excuses, er uh, reasons.
If you incorporate these simple ideas I’ve laid out here, you’ll dramatically increase your chances for success in realizing your resolutions.