5 Steps To a Resolution You’ll Stick With

Question of the Day: What is your favorite holiday song? Among my favorites are Last Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and Do You Hear What I Hear.

Now that the Christmas season is over, it is almost time to count down…..2011 is almost here! Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Or are you still trying to think of a goal that you can, well, actually commit to? Making a resolution is hard, and sticking to it is even harder.

Personally, I love New Year’s resolutions. What better way to begin a brand new year than with a newfound determination to improve yourself for the better as a person? I’ve listed five steps that I’ve used for the past few years that are guaranteed to help you choose a resolution that is both bold and possible.

1) Want V.S. Need…or Want & Need? Be sure to make a resolution that is both pragmatic and desirable. If you want to start growing a vegetable patch but you don’t like gardening, then what’s the point? The best resolution will give you material benefits as well as personal happiness. Besides, you’ll be much more likely to stick with a goal that you personally enjoy working towards as opposed to a goal that you don’t.

2) Be Realistic. You want to write, edit, AND publish a book in a single year? My dear friend, you have some fierce ambitions! Although I admire your fervor, it takes A LOT of work to do each of those things…either you will have a mental breakdown by August from trying to finish your book or you’ll lose steam fast. Your resolution needs to be realistic and attainable. Why not aim to only complete a book? Believe me, that’s already difficult as it is! If you are a writing whiz-gizmo, you can start editing towards the end of the year. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you could also start researching the publishing industry and weighing your options (self-publishing versus a publisher). But don’t get too greedy with your goals without considering the work that must be done to reach them.

3) Be Specific. If you decide to “be healthier,” what exactly does that mean? Do you want to lose weight, start a daily exercise routine, eat organic food, or what? You can take action in so many different ways in order to “be healthier,” but if you try to focus on too many smaller goals you will lose sight of everything because it will simply be too much.

4) Make a Plan. Let’s say your goal for 2011 is to “be healthier by avoiding processed foods and cooking with fresh, organic products.” The point of the resolution is to “be healthier.” How will you do that? By “avoiding processed foods and cooking with fresh, organic products.” But a year is pretty long, and after a while it’s way too easy to simply…give up. By using month-by-month progress check-ups, you can make sure that you stick with your resolution. If you realize you’re losing steam by April or May, you can re-motivate yourself and gear up to start again full blast when June comes around. For each month, add a new mini goal to your resolution. For instance, in January you may start out easy by simply reading food labels when you go to the grocery store. Then in February, perhaps you’ll start to plan out what vegetables you want to grow in your backyard. By March, you can start planting! Keep a notebook to keep track of your progress and to-do’s.

5) Share It. There’s nothing better than sharing your resolution with a good friend who has a similar goal in mind. However, it’s best if your friend has a resolution that is at least slightly different from yours; otherwise, a friendly partnership may become a major competition. What’s great about working towards a resolution together is that you’re able to provide each other with healthy doses of moral support, constant motivation, and positive peer pressure. Plus, it will bring your friendship up to a whole new level that is even more meaningful and enjoyable than it was before.

2 responses to “5 Steps To a Resolution You’ll Stick With”

  1. Sal says:

    Good list. I have heard both strategies on #5. On one hand, we want everyone to back us and support us on our journey to a new, well, us. This is like an accountability partner who will be there to keep us on track and check to make sure we are sticking to our own goals.

    Then again, I recently heard a lecture from a psychologist who states that by telling others, we get pats on the back and “atta boy’s” which release chemicals in the brain, similar to those released when we achieve our goal. So basically, we are lead to believe we have achieved our goal already and lose much of the desire to continue through the finish.

    Numbers 1, 2 and 3 hit the nail on the head though. Especially 1. I know plenty of people who want to get fit, but they want the end result instead of the process. It is kinda like when people say “Oh yea, I want to be an author,” but really mean “Being an author sounds great, but I don’t want to put in the time and energy to get there…”

    This year, I am taking a quick tip from Chris Brogan and choosing three words to focus on and expanding from there. We’ll see how it goes :) Happy New Year!

  2. Amanda Sablan says:

    All my favorite holiday songs play in Home Alone. Please Come Home For Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock… :)

    Anyway, this is some really useful advice here! We always have such big aspirations for the new year and even though at first we may appear to be succeeding, more often than not we quickly lose steam and make excuses like, “Oh, I’ll start again next week.” But really all we need to do is find something we truly enjoy. And for resolutions that involve things we don’t particularly enjoy (such as making all A’s in Algebra or to quit smoking), we need to keep in mind day in and day out how much happier we’d be if we made it through.

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