This Year, Keep Your New Year Resolutions!

Are you hoping that this year will be the year you keep your New Year Resolutions?

Most of us start the new year with good intentions to improve our lives in some way.  We may want to:

  • Create or improve something
  • Start or increase doing things
  • Stop or cut back on doing things
  • Be better for others, ie. kinder, more generous, more patient

Yet, 85% of us give up by mid-January because we never truly commit to making them happen.  

Without a strong desire for something specific coupled with commitment to develop and implement a plan, we’ll have nothing to act upon.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to make this year different:

  • Translate your intentions into specific criteria for what you want to see (one change or at the most two-related things)
  • Get leverage on why this is truly important beyond a mere “should” or “nice to”
  • Believe you can succeed; if not, figure out a way to build belief that you can
  • Decide that the benefit of taking action is worth the cost(s)
  • Develop a plan to:
    • Set SMART goals to reach desired outcomes and decide upon the strategies you will use to succeed
    • Plan your actions and schedule them
    • Get what you need, such as resources and support
    • Develop a way to measure your progress to get feedback
    • Develop implementation intentions: if this happens —-,  then I will ——  (so you will know what to do in case an obstacle arises)
    • Write your plan down to refer to it regularly
  • Follow-through on actions by setting yourself up for success
    • Reserve your willpower so you don’t do too many things at once
    • Take small steps to make it easy to take action and build belief in yourself
    • Make activities as pleasurable as possible so you’ll want to do them
    • Work with your habits to make it easy on yourself
      • Use mini-habits: just do one small thing to get started and you’ll likely continue doing more of it
      • Stack habits:  schedule a new activity after one that’s already part of your schedule
    • Remember the long-term benefit of what you’re doing because short-term gratification can knock you off track
    • Don’t give up if you go off-track; just forgive yourself, recommit and plan how to do better in the future
    • Visualize yourself taking the actions you need to take
    • Do things with others for encouragement and support
    • Reflect upon your progress and adjust your plans as needed

To illustrate the significance of taking these actions, Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University conducted a study with 267 participants of varied ages and backgrounds and randomly assigned them to one of five groups.  She provided the following instructions:

For group 1 - Think about their goals

For group 2 - Write their goals down

For group 3 - Do the same as group 2 plus create an action plan

For group 4 - Do the same as group 3 plus send your goals and action commitments to a friend

For group 5 - Do the same as group 4 plus send weekly progress reports to a friend

What do you think happened?  Group 5 got the best results, followed by 4, followed by 3, follows by 2, and 1 did the most poorly.

Best of luck to you!  Wishing you much success and happiness in this New Year!

Sharon

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