A resolution, by definition, is a firm decision to do or not do something, a formal expression of decision and intention. And yet, less than 10% of people actually accomplish what they resolve to on January 1st. What is the secret to making, as well as, achieving your New Year’s resolutions? The answer lies in how you establish them, how you tackle them, and who’s alongside you.
When making New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to employ the classic technique of making goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Break your resolutions down into smaller milestones, steps that are incremental and closer to something that you’ve already mastered. This also has the built-in bonus of a short-term pay-off. Equally helpful and important is setting goals that hold meaning for you, as opposed to those that you experience external pressure to set.
Another key component to establishing New Year’s resolutions is being intentional about scheduling time to work on them. We have to choose to make our resolutions a priority. Treating resolutions as you would any other appointment in your calendar is a way to ensure you dedicate time to focus on them. Writing down your goals, either on your calendar, or elsewhere etches them into your subconscious. Review them every morning and read them aloud.
As you take on your resolutions, remember that progress is seldom linear. Learn to be patient with yourself when there seems to be a step backwards. Be mindful that progress towards certain goals may involve immediate gains followed by a period of resistance. Conversely, working towards other goals may be marked by slow initial progress with rapid breakthroughs later on. Similarly, avoid all or nothing thinking. Even when you can’t run the full mile, take pride in the brisk five-minute walk you managed, and know it’s the first step towards your ultimate goal.
Power of repetition, persistence and patience are actually the keys to achieving your resolution, not willpower. Small stumbles and slight derailments shouldn’t be taken as excuses to give up. They’re more so an opportunity to redirect and recommit to the path that will lead towards achievement of your resolutions. You have to create new neuropathways to overcome the deep rooted, existing pathways that have been engrained into your brain by old behaviors. A proactive approach may involve brainstorming potential barriers and developing strategies for overcoming them so that you’re more prepared when you encounter them.
Lastly, the individuals you recruit to your team can play an integral part in the achievement of your resolutions. Engage social support and accountability partners. It’s much more difficult to admit to a friend or family member that you’ve fallen short of achieving your goal than it is to break a promise to yourself. Even more helpful may be finding an accountability partner who’s already achieved the goal you’re aspiring to.
What small step can you take today, and who will ask to join your resolution dream team?