Guest blogger and associate Maxcy Dancy shares tips on how to keep your New Years Resolution.
How many New Year’s resolutions have you made over the years and how many have you actually accomplished? Are you like so many of us who start the year off being super optimistic about our New Year’s resolution, whether it’s to conquer a fear, get in shape, eat healthy, be more productive, quit smoking, etc., only to find ourselves back at square one within weeks after the New Year? If so, then what you need are a few simple techniques that will enable you to create lasting change and fulfill the goals that you have set for yourself.
First: Don’t set vague goals like “I’m going to be healthier.” Instead, be specific. Set behavioral goals based on measurable outcomes. So, in terms of wanting to be healthier, your specific behavioral goal might be: Lowering cholesterol by five points. Eating five servings of fruits and veggies each day. Losing 20 pounds. Running 5k in 30 minutes. You get the idea. Decide what your goal is in measurable, specific terms and then write it down.
Second: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Instead of deciding to change twenty things, pick one thing to change that is a top priority for you because it is much easier to accomplish something when you only have one thing to focus on. Many people make the mistake of trying to do too many things at once and instead of accomplishing them all, they just end up overwhelmed and giving up. So pick one thing to be focused on, one thing you have a burning desire to achieve.
Third: Success creates success. We are more motivated to persevere while tackling difficult challenges when we have first succeeded at smaller, easier to accomplish challenges. Consequently, it is best to start with mini-goals. When you succeed at them, this will inspire you and enable you to go the distance when you are dealing with your main goal and the going gets tough. So take your main goal and break it down to bite size, mini-goals that start out easy and become more challenging.
Fourth: Set a realistic deadline for accomplishing your goal. Having a deadline tends to keep people moving forward at a solid pace rather than slowly plodding along. A deadline encourages consistency, strengthens motivation and creates a sense of urgency. Additionally, when the task is difficult, requiring a lot of time and energy, people can remind themselves that there is a deadline and that the struggle is not going to last forever. Knowing that an end is in sight tends to increase motivation and decrease discouragement.
Fifth: Keep the feeling of accomplishing your goal in mind. A way to stay positive should discouragement set in is to imagine how wonderful it will feel when you accomplish your goal. Similarly, if you start to procrastinate, telling yourself you don’t need to do it today, you can start again tomorrow, by focusing on how exciting it will be when you have succeeded, can get you back on track, full steam ahead!
Sixth: When you set goals, be very clear as to how much they matter to you and the overall positive impact your goal is going to have. Think about how they’re going to change every aspect of your life in a positive way: your self-esteem, your relationships, your work, your health and vitality, including the impact the changes you make will have on your family, your friends, your community, and your world! Visualize yourself living your life with your goal accomplished and what your life will be like. Research also shows that visualization helps us reach our goals as well as motivates us.
By staying very aware on a daily basis of what you want and why you want it, you increase your odds of keeping your New Year’s resolutions and effecting permanent, positive change in your life! If you need additional help, working with a coach or a therapist can be useful to create the changes you want to see in your life.