New Year Resolutions: Planning for a year of achievement…
- An extract from one of the beautiful mails coming to me from my friend, and couldn’t wait to share the same here…
Are you busy making your New Year Resolutions… or have you resolved never to make a New Year’s resolution ever again…? If the latter, you’re not alone. So many people get demoralized when, year after year, they make resolutions that they keep for only a few weeks or maybe even just a few days.
Why is this? After all, we all have the best intentions and the timing (New Year, new start) couldn’t be better. The problem may lie in the fact that we place a huge amount of pressure on ourselves. During the last week of December and the first week of January, all you hear is, “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” “What are you going to work on this year?”
And the focus is on the “what” not the “how.” When you are more concerned with the goal you set than on the specifics of how you are going to accomplish it, or even whether it is realistic and achievable, you can set yourself up for failure. So if you resolve to set successful New Year resolutions, read on. Let’s focus on how, this year, you can set yourself up for a year of achievement!
New Year Resolution Mistakes
There are two common mistakes that people tend to make before they even start to make their New Year resolutions: They think about what they “should” do, rather than what they really want to do. And worse, they think about what they should stop doing, rather than what they actually want to achieve. “What should I do this year?” “What should I stop doing?”, “What do other people suggest I should work on?”
To be successful at any change, you need to really want it. Unless you take time to consider what it is you really want (rather than what you should do or should stop doing) you will invariably end up making a resolution to which you are not entirely committed.
Without commitment, you aren’t motivated and after the first setbacks or obstacles you may quit. So the first rule of New Year Resolutions is to only make ones that you are committed to. Don’t make a resolution simply because it is “the thing to do”, or because someone has told you that you should.
The irony of it is that New Year’s resolutions have the potential to be very powerful because they are such a well-recognized practice. Everyone knows that everyone else is setting resolutions. And what a great mutual support network that can provide! This external motivation and support, along with your internal motivation – the desire to succeed – is what can make the difference between success and failure.
Eight Rules for New Year’s Resolutions
Our Eight Rules for New Year’s Resolutions will help set you up for success right from the start. Inevitably you will come up against challenges and road blocks along the way; however by planning ahead and following these rules, you will be better placed to negotiate these easily, rather than stumble and quit.
Rule 1: Commit to Your Resolution
Successful resolutions start with a strong commitment to make a change. To succeed, you must believe that you can accomplish what you set out to and that belief is bolstered by the unwavering support you give yourself.
1.Choose resolutions that you really want to achieve – and make them positive;
2.Announce your resolution to everyone around you – they will help hold you accountable;
3.Develop a ceremony to mark the beginning of your commitment – this makes it more “real” and special for you;
4.Don’t leave your choice of resolution to the last minute – take time to think about your goals. If you don’t, you risk reacting to your current environment and missing the big picture;
5.Questions to ask yourself to determine if you can take ownership of your resolution include:
Is this resolution my idea or someone else’s?
Does this resolution motivate and invigorate me?
Is this resolution sit comfortably with other factors in my life such as my values and long-term plans?
Remember that there’s no reason why your New Year’s resolution should take all year to achieve.
Imagery is a powerful technique to help you own and commit to your goals or resolutions. Try picturing yourself having attained your goal. How do you feel? How do you look? Where you are, what you’re doing? How do others react to you? By visualizing yourself in the position you desire, you can bolster your belief that you can do it and strengthen your motivation.
Rule 2: Be Realistic
The key to achieving goals is continued motivation. If you set the bar too high, you risk failing. Consistently failing at something is profoundly de-motivating (It’s no wonder that after a few dismal attempts some people abandon the idea of New Year’s resolutions altogether!)
Consider carefully before setting the same resolution you set last year. If it didn’t work then, you need to make sure there is good reason to believe you can achieve it this year. What has changed? Do you have more commitment to make it work? (Be careful, or else you will end up with a repeat performance, and another failed resolution);
Aim lower, rather than too high – aim for something that is challenging but that you have a good chance of accomplishing. If there is any doubt, err on the side of caution and expand your goal later if you still want to keep improving; and
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There is no reason to set more than one or two resolutions. Anymore than that and you divide your focus and energy and lessen your chances of success in any area.
Rule 3 – Write It Down
A simple but powerful technique for making your goal real is to put your resolution into writing. There is something inside us that creates more commitment and drive when we take the time to do this. Consider writing it down on pieces of card and keeping it where you’ll see it often – on your desk, the fridge, in your wallet.
Rule 4 – Make a Plan
This is where so many resolutions fall down. Articulating what you want to achieve is one thing; deciding how to do it is quite another. Don’t miss this step out!
1.Start by envisioning where you want to be;
2.Then work back along your path to where you are today;
3.Write down all the milestones you note in between; and
4.Decide what you will do to accomplish each of these milestones.
You need to know each step and have a plan for what comes next.
Rule 5 – Be Flexible
Not everything will work out precisely the way you planned. If you are too rigid in your approach to resolutions the first minor obstacle can throw you off your course completely.
When creating your plan try to predict some challenges you will face. Make a contingency plan for the ones that have the highest probability and mentally prepare yourself for the others.
Realize that your resolution itself might change along the way as well. That’s not failure, it’s reality. As your life changes so will your goals, dreams, and desires. Remember Rule 1 (Commit to Your Resolution): If you need to make changes to the goal so you continue to care about it, do so.
There is no fixed rule saying that a resolution must be set in January. If your circumstances say it is better to wait until March, then do so. Resolutions and goal setting are a year round activity. Don’t get too caught up in the New Year frenzy!
Rule 6 – Use a System of Reminders
It’s hard to keep focused on your plan when you have many other commitments, responsibilities, and obligations. The best way to stay on top of your resolution is to develop a formal reminder system.
Have your written down resolutions visible at as many times of the day as possible. Leave reminders at work, in the car, on your calendar, in your briefcase, etc;
1.Make sure the planned actions are on your to-do list (perhaps have a special section for them at the top);
2.Set up reminders in your desktop calendar or subscribe to an email reminder service; and
3.Be as creative as you can to keep being reminded, and so make sure your goals stay in the front of your mind.
Rule 7 – Track Your Progress
You won’t know how well you are doing unless you keep track of your progress. This is why your detailed plan is so important. You need to know when each milestone in accomplished. The excitement around the little successes will keep you motivated and keep you pushing forwards.
1.Use a journal and make an entry regarding your progress regularly;
2.Note when you felt particularly pleased with your efforts;
3.Note when you felt down or felt like quitting – over time, look for common themes and decide if there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed;
4.Record challenges you faced as well as things that went better than planned;
5.Look back at your entries on a regular basis and use your past experiences to shape your attitude as you move forward;
6.Ask a friend or family member to call you on pre-defined occasions to discuss your progress.
Rule 8 – Reward Yourself
Although knowledge of a job well done can be reward enough, we all enjoy a little treat from time to time. Even the most committed person needs a boost and sometimes that is best accomplished through an external reward.
When you are developing your plan, make a note of a few milestones where you will reward yourself once they are achieved. But spread them out – you want to make sure the rewards remain special and are not too easy to get.
New Year’s resolutions can be a pain or a pleasure. The choice is yours. If it’s a pain, you may resolve never to make a resolution again. So resolve to make it a pleasure! The starting point is to focus on something that you really want and are ready to give your commitment to.
Do this and you’ll be in a great position to stay motivated and be successful!