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How to make New Year’s Resolutions Work6 September 2011
2010 is here and at midnight of December 31st millions of people across the world promised to do less of what they were doing too much of the year before. Resolutions are great things, new start, new goals and all that… but why is it so many people ‘fall off the wagon’ before January is finished? Here’s 5 resolution challenges to overcome…
>>We make it difficult
Often we set ourselves several goals that are massive – give up smoking, eat less, exercise more, be a better person – and often they are aims that we associate with pain. Big targets are great, but we need to believe we can achieve them.
>>We make it a big deal
If our minds are set to believe we have a huge mountain to climb, it makes it easier to make excuses when we fail. By making it a big task in our minds, we give ourselves permission to give up.
>>There’s generally a part of us that believes we can’t do it
Henry Ford once said “whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right” and resolutions are a really tricky one. Of course we want to believe we can do it, but in reality, part of our mind is eyeing up the goal wondering just how hard this may become.
>>We leave a vacuum
As any scientist will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it with anything that’s available, air, water, whatever. If you’re cutting something from your life then you run the risk of either not being able to keep it up or filling it up with something we didn’t want. Lots of former smokers put on weight because they fill the gap their cigarettes left with food or drink.
>>We follow someone else’s rules
The great thing about people is that we’re all individual… the not-so-great thing about people is that what works for someone else may not work for you. Things like diets, exercise, quitting smoking and the like often include a blanket approach that will only work for a small percentage of people. The trick is to find the system that works for us specifically. It may more time and more planning, but we want this to be long term don’t we?
How to make them work
So how committed are you to making this work for you? Do you want real long term success or do you just want to be able to say you gave it a shot? Here’s 6 top tips to help overcome your obstacles:
>>Make it easy
Whatever your New Years resolution there are ways to make it more enjoyable. Some people really do believe in the ‘no pain, no gain’ theory, which is fine. If you’re more interested in making it part of the new you, then you may find that making sure you’re rewarding yourself every day for doing well will work better. Also, ask yourself better questions and your brain will come up with the answers – “how can I make losing weight more enjoyable?” is much better than asking “why am I doing this to myself?”
>>Big goals, baby steps
There’s nothing wrong with having big goals, anything is achievable – as long as you have a plan in place on how to succeed. Baby steps means setting little goals along the way that mean the end goal becomes less important than just achieving all the little tasks that get you there.
>>You can do it
Confidence in your ability comes from positive experiences. Believing you can actually get to where you want to be will be easier if you have constant reminders that you’re progressing. The biggest tip is to focus on the actions you can control, not the ones you can’t. You can control if you replace a cigarette with brushing your teeth (which is how my Dad quit smoking), you can control if you replace chocolate with home made pancakes (it may sound daft but it’s worked brilliantly for some people).
>>Be absolutely clear on the plan
Wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and achieve whatever it is you want? Unfortunately all good things take a little effort, so put the effort in at the start. Decide what it is you’re looking to achieve. Are you aiming to make more money this year? If you are the goal isn’t really the money, it’s probably what you will do with it. You probably don’t want to quit smoking, you may want to feel better, be healthier, save more money… Think about what your goal will give you and make sure that’s what you’re focusing on. Then put a plan in place to achieve it. Write reminders everywhere – in your wallet, on your fridge, as the wallpaper on your computer. Remember, keep it simple…
>>Fill in the blanks
If you’re cutting something out of your life, make sure you’ve got something to replace it asap. My fiancé has just ‘accidentally’ quit smoking because he tried an electric cigarette and found he likes it much more than normal cigarettes. If you want to cut out the chocolate, find an alternative that will kill your sweet craving or whatever it is that triggers your craving.
You can also use blanks to achieve other goals. Create a vacuum by printing out a chart that allows you to tick off each goal day by day.
>>Write your own system
Other people’s systems are great and very useful. You’ll probably find that everyone’s got some good advice for you along the way. The key to using that advice is to work out whether it fits with you. These days there are so many routes you can use to achieving more. If you’ve got a sweet tooth you can eat a high sugar, low fat diet. If you prefer steak, you can eat a high protein diet. You can even decide not to diet at all and just exercise lots instead! Find what suits you and you’ll be more likely to stick with it all the way into 2011!
Helpful links for common new years resolutions…