Six Tools To Make Your New Year Resolutions Come True
Here comes 2012! Will you achieve your New Year Resolutions? How will you make those goals a reality? Begin with a conception, move to a process and then use these six practical tools to attain your goals.
SO, I’M sitting here on New Year’s Eve morning getting a wee bit nervous. By now, I figure, I should have thought out my New Year’s Resolutions and be contemplating the plan to make them happen, an interesting compulsion given my erratic track record.
Well, “why not write about something I haven’t yet done to put me in the right head space?”, I suggest to myself. Yeah, that’s right, tell people what and how to do what I haven’t even done myself… but, of course, intend to.
Lucky you. For herewith are my thoughts on the matter, with ample help from HuffPost and Linda Eisenstadt.My take on their approach, as amended by my own brain twist is to begin with a conception, move to a process and then suggest actual goals along the health side of things.
Why bother? Well, if you spend any time and effort at all at resolution making and goal-attaining, you might as well put yourself in a space to succeed. Because the stats are not on your side.
As many as 100 million Americans make New Year’s resolutions, CNN reports. Only 40 to 45 percent of those people stick to their resolutions six months later. And that doesn’t mean these goals were attained, as the next set of statistics presented below affirm.
The concept is to take small bites that are easily chewable or digestible. Or an even better analogy is the snowball. Apply this to each goal (resolution), particularly if it has eluded you in the past.
Start small and roll down the hill.
Think of what happens to a small fist-size snowball that’s rolled down a hill. Yep, get’s pretty big and gains momentum. (It’s how billionaire Warren Buffet explains how his wealth grew).
If you bumped into a gigantic 10 foot diameter snowball and were challenged to make it, you might turn around and run away, or you might brace yourself and sign a wavering signature to the contract figuring you’d find a way to meet this goal.
Or, you could simply say,
“My goal is to make a fist size snowball and each day move it further down the hill.”
Let it be small, but challenging. The one great reason to begin this way is because the data is clear: Only 12 percent of resolution-makers succeed in attaining their goals.
The process whereby you determine and manage your resolutions comes to us via Lisa Eisenstadt of the The Daily Muse. In her post, New Year’s Resolutions, How to Actually Keep Them, Ms. Eisendtadt refers to author and psychologist Richard Wiseman’s research which finds that 52 percent of resolution-makers are basically self-deceptive; they were confident their goals would be met, yet only 12 percent succeeded.
Those transcendent 12 percent that shamed the rest of us succeeded due to employing a better process that helped ensure that they crossed the goal line.
They set up step-by-step goals and they shared their goals with friends and family, thus making their commitments public.
There are six practical tools that Eisendtadt’s presents, which, naturally, I mix up with my own suggestions. You may find them to be a good process to incorporate into your goal making and goal doing.
Six Practical Tools to Attain Your Goals
1. Get Specific
Rather than say, “I’ll be healthier”, get more specific, such as, “I will eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, starting with three servings in week one, four in week two, and five in week three”.
Your resolution needs to be a tangible, achievable outcome. When you focus on that goal, when you visualize it, it needs to make you feel good to you, and it needs to be a positive outcome to you and perhaps others as well.
A good aide for this is a mantra. Make a mantra addressing your goal and repeat it during your visualization and throughout the day.
2. Write it Down
Write down your goals! Right down the steps to achieve them. Date the projected day of attainment and each step along the way. Without a step-by-step plan, the goal can appear overwhelming and trigger frustration or negative thoughts that get in the way of your success. But by planning and accomplishing one small thing at a time, you’ll stay on track, focused, and positive.
3. Make Time
Be sure to set aside ample time for yourself to achieve your goals. If you want to exercise more, plot out time in your weekly schedule for runs and time at the gym.
4. Move Past Doubt
Monitor how you undermine your goals with your thoughts. Pay attention to self-sabotaging mind chatter, like: “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do it.” Every thought you have is an intention. It’s normal to feel fear, doubt, or worry — but to make progress, it’s important to move past those negative feelings.
If you find negative thoughts surfacing, don’t criticize yourself, but stay in control. If your thoughts don’t support you or your goals, let them go — they’re not doing you any good. Replace them with your positive mantra, instead. Remember that self-doubt thoughts are often misleading and downright wrong, and should be ignored.
5. Get a Partner
Having a group, partner, friend, or professional to encourage you can be a great way to keep you going. Try finding a friend who has a similar resolution, and check in with each other every week to talk about your progress and challenges. Or, ask a family member or significant other to keep you accountable — just make sure they’re supportive and positive.
You can also seek professional help, whether that’s a personal trainer to help you meet your fitness goals or a counselor who can help you tackle larger, looming issues such as low self-confidence or a lack of direction. If you are dealing with issues of self-doubt, these can seriously get in the way of you meeting your other goals — so do yourself a favor, and address such issues head on.
6. Be Still
Have you heard the saying, “Be Still, Know God”? My interpretation of this is that only when you’re your body and mind are still can you let in impressions/thoughts not spawned by the altered ego. How can lofty thoughts penetrate the constant mind chatter unless you quiet them? Be still.
You’re more likely to slip on your goals when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, so spend time every day to getting out of your thoughts and reconnecting with yourself. Try a breathing exercise, meditation, yoga, or just going for a walk. The more practice you have being still and calm, the more present you’ll be for each step of achieving your goals.[Read: Are Your Thoughts Yours?]
Setting and reaching goals isn’t about willpower, it’s about the power of your intention. Once you’ve mastered these few steps, you’ll be well equipped to follow through on your resolutions — this time, for good.
OK, so here let’s consider applying some of the above tips to health goals. These are examples that may guide you in determining health-oriented goals of your own. I’m guided here by a HuffPost article entitled, New Year’s Resolutions: How to Make Your Healthy Goals Stick.
WebMD reports that about 15 percent of people who make resolutions for the New Year cite getting in shape as their top priority, WebMD reports. But by some estimates, as many as 60 percent of people let those new gym memberships deplete their bank accounts without anything to show for it, according to Time.com.
Improve Your Chances: “Fitness” is not a goal, as it’s not specific enough. Pick a specific goal like being able to do more pushups, jump rope longer, or walk up that tall hill outside your home faster. This way, you’re being specific and can track your progress. Another idea along the vein of the snowball is to write down a goal of going to the gym twice a week for the first month, thrice the second, etc.[Have five minutes to spare? Watch Meg Hoffman’s five minute exercise routine.]
It’s the perennial favorite. Year after year, losing weight is among the most popular New Year’s resolutions. And yet more Americans are overweight and obese than ever before. It takes cutting or burning off 3,500 calories to lose a pound a week (that’s 500 a day)!
Improve Your Chances: Again, as implied above in “Get Fit”, god is in the details. Writing down “lose weight” in your goal journal is useless. Need specifics. You need a weight goal (which always has a time-line) and a map (plan) to get there.
One idea is start a food journal to track what you eat and how much of it, making plans with an exercise buddy or personal trainer to keep you accountable to a fitness regimen, or even simply weighing yourself every day. (Note: There can be variance up and down, day to day, so make sure you focus on the weekly average.)[Read 10 Unusual (Need to Know) Tips About Losing Weight for many weight loss tips, including food journaling.]
You know when you make an unhealthy food choice. But which unhealthy food choice do you habitually make? It might be serving size, fast food, sodium, or sugar, etc. (Read Sugar Lover? Which Type Are You.). Again, specificity matters in goal making and attaining.
Improve Your Chances: Make a list of what you’re willing to do to eat healthier. Then choose one or two items on that list and make a plan to incorporate them, or delete them from your pantry, sorta speak.
At first, it might be an easier transition to determine what foods or food groups you aren’t getting enough of and focus on adding these to your diet, and gradually delete the bad stuff later. Example: Eating more fruits and veggies, replacing refined grains with whole grains or choosing lean, fresh meat over fattier, processed meats.[Would a blueprint be helpful? Here is mine: A Blueprint for Eating Right.]
And that’s it for now, except to underscore that achieving your goals is not mainly about willpower, but about intention and process.
You can think that someday you’d love to visit Croatia, but it’s unlikely to happen unless you truly intend to do so, you have a plan to get there, and each week you’ve taken one additional step to getting on that plane.
Happy New Year!