New Year’s Resolutions
Jauary is a great time to take inventory, set goals and take charge of your life. But if you’re like most, making new year’s resolutions is much easier than keeping them. Rather than focus on a perfect outcome, which can lead to disappointment at the first slip, remember that self-improvement is an ongoing endeavor. Setbacks are not failure; they bring insight for future success. Before deciding on this year’s resolutions, create a list of goals and changes you’d like to make. Then, review your list, and cross off any items you don’t feel genuinely devoted to. Maybe you want to resolve to quit smoking or lose weight. You’re more likely to succeed if you feel a strong personal commitment rather than ‘I should.’
Why They Fail
One reason people falter is because resolutions are often made to silence the pestering of a loved one. If you decide to quit smoking to get your husband off your back, you’re less likely to succeed. If you choose to quit smoking to feel healthier and be able to enjoy physical activity without being winded, you’re more likely to experience success. Choose one or two resolutions on your list that you feel most committed to. Then, choose two more you feel confident you can do with ease. These last couple can help provide confidence for the more challenging ones.
Plan to Succeed
Next, make a clear plan for adhering to your resolutions. Put each resolution and steps to achieve them in writing. If your resolution requires a routine or schedule such as exercise, diet or completing your education, create a detailed plan to execute and track your progress. Also, post notes in strategic places such as on the refrigerator, mirror or steering wheel of your vehicle for positive reinforcement. Make sure your family understands the importance of your resolutions. If your resolution is something your family has been nagging you about, ask for their encouragement; but, explain that pressure and pestering, particularly during setbacks, could undermine your resolve. Determine how each family member can help you to achieve your goal, perhaps by taking on additional household chores or through affirmations of your continued success.
Enable Yourself and Work Together
Adjust your environment to enable success. If eating healthier is your goal, don’t fill the cupboards with junk food for other family members. Find healthy snacks they’re willing to substitute. If you’re trying to quit smoking, avoid people, places and things that tempt you – at least until you have it well under control. Don’t go it alone. If you have a friend with a similar resolution, make a pact. Work together to create a plan and make a point to check in with each other regularly for encouragement, praise, and support. If you resolve to get more exercise, do it together. Having a commitment and someone to accompany you will go a long way in helping you succeed.
Reward, Reward, Reward!
Finally, reward yourself – not just once you’ve achieved your goal, but for each small victory. Periodic rewards can be motivation enough to keep you strong when you’re ready to throw in the towel. Remember, whatever New Year ‘s resolutions you choose, success awaits you if you resolve never to give up trying.