New Year’s Resolutions: 3 Tips to Make Them Stick
Well, here we are, facing a brand new year! I’m not necessarily the one that burst out of the starting gate January 1st, guns blazing and ready to turn the world on its ear. The holiday buzz and activity always takes its toll on me, so I tend to be the one limping across the starting gate and building resolve as I go.
This year is different though.
I’m determined to challenge myself to learning new things and, well, having some damn fun for a change! How about you?
I’m pretty sure you are more than ready to get out and enjoy the world we've all only been able to see through plexiglass this past year.
But, I also like a challenge! I recently saw an article on Inc.com that offered 30 examples of personal challenges that one might take on to promote personal growth in the New Year.
It brought up a good point about New Year’s resolutions that have frustrated most of us who have repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, tried to change unwanted habits or set new goals in the past.
And that is, that we come out of the gate with the best of intentions, intending to go big, stay inspired and welcome the transformation, then, in short order, we quit. Why?
Well, it turns out that we usually figure out that we aren't prepared to offer the patience and perseverance that long- term habit changes require. After all, they didn’t all just show up on our doorstep a few weeks ago.
We cultivate bad habits like a poor diet, lack of exercise or poor relationship skills over time. Any habit can be changed, but when we realize it actually takes work and focus for what feels like infinity, we panic and abort the mission.
Let’s be honest, there’s also a little fear mixed in with the reasons we tell ourselves why we can’t do this or that. “It’s not the right time”, “I don’t have enough money” or “I’m not good enough to do that” are all self-sabotaging dialog that rear their ugly heads right when we need the most support.
It’s also because we’re overwhelmed by the concept of time. If someone told you that you could fix a bad habit in a few weeks versus a year, you probably would be more willing to take it on, right?
But, thinking about having to stay out of your comfort zone for what seems like eternity can be daunting to say the least.
So, how do you approach a fresh year and stick with a new goal?
What’s worked for me in the past while helping my coaching clients AND my senior downsizing clients as they faced difficult life changes is actually quite simple.
What I mean by “start small” is take whatever goal, task or habit that you want to achieve and cut it down into manageable pieces.
In the case of downsizing clients that I’ve worked with, they go into slack jawed paralysis when they are about to face going through an entire house full of a lifetime of stuff and making the decision what to keep and what to give away.
Starting small for them, and anyone else with an organizing project, means starting with one dresser in a bedroom, taking one drawer at a time and going through it before they move on to the next drawer, then basically repeating the process throughout the entire house. One step at a time.
What they find is a sense of accomplishment as they finish each dresser, closet or cabinet.
When they’re diligent in the process by keeping their eye on what’s in front of them, instead of looking too “big picture”, it becomes less overwhelming and debilitating.
In the case of a coaching client, “starting small” means breaking their goal down into smaller, easier and more achievable steps, then diligently taking those steps each day, one at a time, to move them closer to their goal.
What tends to happen is that they start to feel more in control of their future and more confident in their abilities to achieve whatever mission they’ve created for themselves.
If you have a goal or habit you’ve tried to implement on your New Year’s Resolution List, but met with frustration because the dream fizzled on you after just a few short weeks, ask yourself this.
Do you get overwhelmed quickly because you’ve set the bar too high right out of the gate?
We always want to be the best at whatever we do, lose the most weight, demonstrate the best skill and so on.
But, few of us come out of drivers training at age 16 and qualify as a professional race car driver. Get my point?
Maybe you’re a person that hates to fail or think you’ll look stupid in front of your friends and family if things don’t work out right, usually because you’re comparing yourself against others who have been successful, but ignoring the part that they got there because they already ran the gauntlet of the learning curve.
I’ve often said in my previous blogs that perspective is everything when we’re evaluating how we want to approach life or facing difficult challenges.
So, if you want to come out of the starting gate in 2021 and not only stick to a goal, but actually succeed in reaching it, consider these three tips to keep you on your path.
1) Make your goal achievable.
If your goal is to own your own business within 2 years, you might benefit from breaking that goal down into smaller, more achievable steps that will enable you to develop the skills, experience and resources that goal requires. If a goal you’re working on still seems too out of reach, continue to cut it down in size until it IS reachable and then take daily steps to reach those goals.
2) Create a shorter timeline for the goal process.
Along with taking smaller steps, create shorter timelines to achieve or complete them. Instead of saying “I’m going to lose 25 pounds in 6 months”, make it 2-4 pounds a month or, better yet, one pound a week.
Since these are goals that are feasible, there’s a greater chance you’ll find success with each step, which will then help bolster you onto the next step, building confidence along the way. Because you’re seeing success in shorter periods of time and celebrating them, you’ll also be less likely to give up.
3) Create a kinder dialog with yourself.
Self-judgment is always a goal killer because we set such high expectations for the things we do. Then, if we don’t reach the goal or succeed in the way we expect to, it’s considered a total failure.
But, nothing could be farther from the truth.
A more positive and realistic perspective is that with every try and every experience, you learn.
You learn what worked, what didn’t and discovered things along the way you weren’t expecting. Learning, in and of itself, is succeeding because it’s adding to the foundation of knowledge and experience of your life. So, don’t knock it! Take what you’ve learned and keep going!
I know that these tools, if implemented with intention and focus, can help anyone reach their goals or overcome challenges. My hope is that 2021 will be a kinder, gentler year for you and for all of us.
So, my friend, as I always say….stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!