New Year Resolution Time Is Here Again. But how do you make them stick? We say forget 1st of January. Find out why here.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Another New Year, another set of resolutions. Good intentions abound but somehow, when January comes around, it all just seems harder than it sounded. Hands up if you’ve ever resolved to ;
- lose weight
- exercise more
- find a work-life balance
- stop smoking
- eat healthily
- spend more time with family
- manage your time more effectively
- just be nicer to be around
It comes as no surprise then, to learn that research from the university of Scranton suggests a measely 8% of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. After the first week of January a whopping quarter of us will have already ditched the goals we committed to at the beginning of January.
New Year’s Resolutions: 4 Steps to make ’em stick
For all of the resolution doom and gloom, the 8% success story is doing something different to the rest of us (and those persevering after the first week of January aren’t looking too shabby either). But what is it that’s setting them apart? Positive Change Guru investigates.
New Year’s Resolution Tip 1: Begin before New Year
Take time out to really consider what is important to you, where you want to be in a year’s time, five years time or even longer. What do you want your life to look like?
Think about what you’d like to achieve, things you want to change (and why) and commit to a handful of goals rather than an avalanche of changes. If you’re randomly choosing things on New Year’s Eve they’re likely to be half hearted and lack a genuine commitment to make them happen. Start now don’t wait until 1st January just because you think you should. We’ve already started thinking about them here at PCG, we even took time out on a retreat to consider how we want the next year to look for us both personally and professionally. Yup, we have a list too. It’s your life, you can’t rush it. Create space for yourself to think and plan.
New Year’s Resolution Tip 2: Believe that you can
First things first, if you don’t really believe it’s possible for you to achieve any of those new year’s resolutions that you held your hand up to, it’s not going to happen. Build your self belief by;
Recognizing what you’ve already achieved. Buy a journal and make a note of goals you’ve conquered to date, along with new accomplishments each day.
Create an ‘achievement’ box of things that remind you of your successes; certificates, thank you cards, momentos.
Identify your strengths and use them to leverage your New Year’s goals. The VIA Strengths Character Assessment is a great place to start authentichappiness.org
Monitor your self talk. Banish negativity by making your mind a ‘No put down’ zone. Whenever you hear your inner critic doubting your ability to reach a goal ask “Where’s the evidence?” “Is there another way of looking at this?” and then counter the negative thought with a positive response shifting from “I’ll never be able to do this” (negative) to “What can I do to help me achieve this goal?” (positive).
New Year’s Resolution Tip 3: Start small
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. If you are aiming for several huge, audacious, scary goals all at once, chances are you’ll feel overwhelmed pretty quickly. Start small by identifying two or three goals that you genuinely want to commit to and then break them down again into manageable chunks. Research demonstrates that working on one or two goals increases your chances of success.
Keep it simple, for example, if building more exercise into your week is a goal then committing to visiting the gym seven times a week is setting yourself up to fail. Think about a goal that allows scope for slippage, start with going to the gym three times a week and build from there.
New Year’s Resolution Tip 4: Create a Plan
Professor Richard Wiseman from the university of Hertfordshire studied a staggering 5,000 New Year’s resolution hopefuls. His research found that only 1 in 10 of us will reach our goals successfully. The reason? That 10% didn’t possess super – human willpower, they simply had a plan (Doh! Why didn’t the rest of us think of that?).
Wisman warns that strategies relying on willpower, pictures on fridges of how we want to look or choosing role models alone won’t work. Instead creating a detailed plan and sticking to it is the way to go. Begin by;
Identifying your goals, remembering to keep to one or two.
List the benefits of achieving your chosen goal. Will you feel fitter? Healthier? Less stressed? Whatever the benefit, ink it so that you can remind yourself when the going gets tough.
Remember to start small. Chunk them down into smaller goals, think of how you will achieve them, step by step. Keep them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) it’s hard to hit a target if you can’t see it. Then write them down somewhere that you can refer to them regularly, in a journal or on a spreadsheet. If you’re visual, plot your progress on a graph to keep up your motivation or create a montage of your goal.
Create your own ‘cheerleading’ team. Tell others about your goals and enlist them for support.
Reward yourself for achieving sub-goals. Acknowledge your achievements and celebrate them.
Have a strategy for when things go awry. Remember that failure is normal, it’s how we learn as human beings. If something doesn’t go to plan, recognize it, learn any lessons and move on.
So now you’re armed with your guide to becoming one of the 8% who reach and maintain their New Year’s goals we look forward to hearing about your achievements though this site or on Twitter or Facebook. Let us know how you’re getting on. And don’t forget to watch out for us in January’s edition of Dare Magazine talking about why New Year might not be the best time to make changes!