How To Make New Year Resolutions That Stick
“I don’t do resolutions,” my friend Jane told me recently. “What’s the point? I never keep them.”
You probably know a few people like Jane yourself. Perhaps you’re one of them!
Given that fewer less than 50% people who make resolutions ever keep them until Valentines day, it’s understandable. But while people sometimes make hasty and unrealistic resolutions, the real reason many fail to keep them is simple – they assume the resolve they feel on January 1st will last the year ahead.
Motivation is tenuous in nature; it ebbs and flows. Not only that, but our innate fear of failure and tendency of what’s familiar can sabotage our efforts to change before we ever get far out of the starting gate. Heck if pursuing brave goals and making changes in our lives were easy, we’d all be doing it.
To make the changes you really want – whether on January 1st or any day of the year, you need to be smart about it and set yourself up for success over the long haul. . After all, success isn’t all just about attitude, it’s to employ strategies to steel your resolve and rise above the self-doubts, fear and old habits of behavior that strike at the heart of every worthwhile endeavor. Here are 8 of the most powerful!
1. Clarify Your Big Why
Courageous action without a clear purpose can result in a catastrophic failure. So before you start out, be crystal clear about why you want to do what you do. Doing so will enable you to be more intentional in creating it, dig deeper when the going gets tough or habitual (fear-fuelled) ways of thinking and acting threaten to pull you back to the status quo and well-worn excuses.So take a moment to think about what you’d really love to have both more or less of in 2015?
- More connectedness; less conflict.
- More vitality; less lethargy.
- More security; less debt.
- More confidence; less doubt.
- More fun; less stress.
- More success; less struggle.
Whatever it is, know this: You need to be really intentional in creating it. So always connect your goals, ambitions and resolutions to things that fuel your sense of purpose and align with your deepest values. Doing so will help you to dig deeper and exit your comfort zone when the going gets tough and habitual ways of thinking and acting threaten to pull you back to the status quo and those well-worn excuses that keep it so fixed in place. As Nietzsche said, “Know your why and you’ll figure out any how!”
2. Own The Pay-Off You Get Sticking To The Status Quo
Change is difficult, even change for the better. If it wasn’t everyone would be changing those aspects of their relationships, finances, jobs, and health that pull them down day after day, year after year. The reason they don’t is because to change anything we have to give up the pay-off of sticking with the status quo. Emotional familiarity. Mental complacency. Physical comfort. Short-term gratification.
3. Narrow Your Focus
Aiming high is great, but deciding you want to run a marathon, finish your MBA, change jobs, renovate your home, and write a book all in the next year can leave you bouncing about like Tigger on Red Bull, not quite sure which direction you are going. Instead, set yourself up for success by focusing on one major goal at a time, not twenty-one. As Daniel Goleman wrote in his latest bestseller Focus, “Distraction is a goal killer!” So too is overwhelm and exhaustion.
4. Enlist a Support Crew
Never underestimate the power of your social environment to support or sabotage your success. Recruit a cheer squad among your family and friends, enlist someone(s) to hold you accountable, hire a trainer, engage a coach, create a Facebook accountability group. Likewise, if there are people (or environmental triggers) in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly, set clear boundaries up front or avoid them entirely (something I called “pruning your tree” in Stop Playing Safe.) When you surround yourself with people who believe in you, it makes success so much easier to achieve!
5. Make Your Goals Measurable
It’s great to want to eat better, get fitter, be happier, relax more and create better work/life balance but you could add an apple a day to your diet and tick the first box. Set a goal you can track and measure. For instance, if you want to get fitter, aim to run 10k by May 30th, then schedule how many workouts you’ll do each week to build up to it.
6. Start With Bite Size Steps
Every great feat is really just the accumulation of thousands of smaller steps. So however big your goal, break it down into small short-term goals, and then down into small highly ‘doable’ bite size steps. E.g. Step 1, print out this article. Step 2, write down your goal (doing so increases the likelihood of achieving it by 70%). Step 3, tell your partner or best friend and ask them to hold you accountable. Step 4, schedule time to write down the next 10 steps! If you take one action every day, however insignificant it may seem, a year from now you’ll be in a very different place.
7. Prepare For Setbacks
Success wouldn’t be meaningful if it landed easily in your lap. In fact it’s the roll-up-your-sleeves hard-yakka that grows your muscles for life and makes your successes truly meaningful. Likewise, assuming everything should fall neatly into place is a surefire recipe for disappointment and frustration. So too is thinking you’ll be as motivated a month from now as you are today. What matters most isn’t that everything goes exactly to plan, it’s what you do when it doesn’t! Resilience is more crucial than ever to succeed in today’s uncertain, fast changing and often unpredictable world. Your disappointments, bad-days, failures and setbacks don’t define you; how you respond to them will.
8. Invest in Being Your Best
Who are you when you are at your best? Now ask yourself, what do you have to do for yourself – daily, weekly, regularly – to be that person… to be playing your ‘A Game’?
- Physically strong and energetic with plenty of stamina
- Emotionally confident, optimistic and resilient.
- Mentally focused and clear on top priorities.
- Spiritually centered and attuned to your highest purpose on this earth.
Whatever it is, schedule time right now into your calendar for doing it! For working out, for planning ahead, decompressing, re-centering, and recharging! You will go further and bounce back faster if you are continually investing in your ‘best-self.’ It’s not selfish or indulgent… it’s indispensable for living your best life!
Truly successful people do things others don’t want to do, or don’t think to do. They are clear about what they want, focused on getting it, prepared to challenge themselves and persistent when plans don’t work out.
If you want to make 2017 your year of living bravely, invest time now to plan ahead so you can start strong, stay brave and live well, no matter what.
Even better, check out my Live Brave Day scheduled for February 4th…. a day to get you on course to creating big outcomes for yourself in the year to come!
Details and early bird registration >>> www.LiveBraveDay.com