Alright, gentlemen. Let's talk about all of these stupid "New Year, New Me" resolutions some of us still make every year. How long do we keep them up? 2 weeks? 2 days? 2 hours??
I quit making resolutions several years ago, and I will tell you that since then, I have changed my life for the better in several areas. Permanently. And with a fair amount of ease.
One of the things I did was to make a small mental shift. I set "goals" instead of resolutions. Instead of simply looking at a series of eliminations (law of the forbidden will wreck you every time), I made a list of reasonable things I want to bring into my life in the new year. Then I made a mental connection with steps and sub-steps that will need to be in place to achieve these goals.
For instance, if I wanted to lose fat in the new year, my goal would be to "gain health". What steps would I need to take to achieve this? Get the junk out of the house and replace it with delicious and healthy alternatives. I would need to move more. How could I do that? Dust off my bike. Get a new pair of walking shoes, do some burpees when I feel like it. Go hiking on sunny days. Go swimming at the river. You see? I am adding things instead of just creating a list of "can't do's".
This year I set a goal to grow my client list by 75% within the next 6 months. What steps would I need to take to achieve this? More social engagement, less movie time and more brainstorming, come up with fun social media campaigns to boost client referrals. Nothing here leaves me feeling deprived. In fact, every step of this goal involves creativity, art, and social interaction. It is all a mind game, and it is an achievable goal.
Here are some helpful tips to get your goals out of your brain and into the physical world:
-Realize that New Year's day is just another day and that setting goals on this day is no different from any other day. While it's a convenient time because it's a new year and therefore feels like a new beginning, placing too much emphasis on it being a brand new start of the day your whole life is going to change is unrealistic. Think of the occasion more as a catalyst for change and a jumping-off point.
-Pinpoint your most realistic goals. Review the different areas in your life and think about what is working as well as what isn't. Instead of picking the same old "resolutions" that you can never seem to keep, like losing body fat, giving up smoking or making more money, choose an area that you know needs improvement rather than a radical change.
-Think long term and make sure it's something you can realistically see happening. And reduce the number of goals you make. Hone down that list of 10 achievements to just one or two, or be prepared to approach your goals one after another rather than all at once.
For instance, perhaps you don't see enough of your friends or you never call your parents. Working on these seemingly simple things may be more rewarding in the long run.
Longer term goals such as learning a new language or controlling your temper are also fine, but they MUST be broken down into chunks so that you don't have unrealistic expectations and then give up too easily.
-Write down your goals. Once you have decided on which are reasonably achievable, write them down. And do it in a meaningful way, not just scribbled on any old piece of note paper. Print it out on nice paper. Frame it and hang it on the wall where you will see it every day. You could even make a contract with yourself stating what you will set out to do and sign it to make it official. Writing down the resolutions creates a greater connection between your thinking self and your doing self and makes the resolution appear more real than if you simply think it in your head. Bring the "Is to be" into the physical world. Make it a magical act.
-Focus on one change at a time. Rather than trying to have several large changes underway at once, such as trying to lose weight, quit smoking, and increase your exercise regime, break the changes down into smaller lots and focus on one single resolution at a time. Your focus and energies won't be spread too thinly this way and you can give the single resolution all of your attention.
-Break down each change into smaller steps and make the first step incredibly easy. For example, if you want to start flossing, the first step can be to locate the floss in the supermarket.
-Find routine trigger points during your day for implementing your goals. For example, when you're eating a meal, brushing your teeth, letting the dog out, etc. Choose times that provide natural triggers for doing whatever it is your goal is about and find a way to attach your goal behavior onto the existing habit.
-As i had mentioned earlier, use positive language rather than negative demands when thinking about doing your resolution. For example, rather than thinking "I can't be bothered with exercising right now", think "I always feel so great after doing some push-ups, and I love that feeling." Highlighting the benefit to you is far more motivating than focusing on the negatives and self-deprecation for not doing it as expected.
-Make changes gradual. A change in habits is unlikely to be enduring if you implement it in its totality the first day. Giving up your favorite daily treats cold turkey will probably cause you to think about them endlessly and finally give in to resuming eating them (again, law of the forbidden). Instead, slowly wean yourself off the treats by eating less of them each week, until you are no longer including them in your daily eating regime.
-Give yourself plenty of time to make the change. At least 21 days of pursuing a new habit are needed to break the old habit, and a good period of time to set a new resolution in place is around two months, after which time it should feel much easier to meet your resolution.
-Review your progress. Break your desired goals/changes down into stages so you can track your progress. Look back after a couple of months and see what you're doing right. Try to fix anything that you're doing wrong. For instance, if your goal was to go to the gym three evenings a week, perhaps you haven't been sticking to it because you always work late. Try going in the mornings instead. Or simply exercise at home. Making a minor adjustment could be the key to success.
-Build on your successes. When you're doing well at sticking to your goals, you may discover that you are feeling better about other areas of your life too. Going to the gym may lead you to cut out smoking too. Similarly, if you have given up something as part of your set goal, try to find a pleasant and diversionary substitute to keep your mind occupied. Quitting smoking may encourage you to exercise more.
-Remember to celebrate your successes, but make sure the way you celebrate doesn't go against your resolution. If you cut down on drinking alcohol, clearly it's best not to reward yourself with an entire bottle of wine. Instead, treat yourself to those shoes or briefcase you've had your eye on, or tickets to a play you've been dying to see. Our brains are hard wired to love rewards. And life IS the great indulgence, after all. Pleasure can be the biggest motivator of them all. Just shift your rewards accordingly.
You are the Captain of your own ship. You have within you, the power to achieve whatever it is you want (keeping the Balance Factor in mind), and it is your own Will to Power that will drive you towards success.
Have a prosperous 2016! Now get busy!