I love January. It’s all about getting a fresh start. It’s also a great time to look at your life and decide what you’d like to change. In other words, it’s a time for New Year’s Resolutions.
Why even bother to make New Year's Resolutions?
Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution? Lots of people do. However, I find that New Year’s Resolutions can get a bad rap because many people anticipate giving up on their goals before they even start. They quit making resolutions because they failed so often in the past. Are you one of them? Do you feel like it is a pointless activity to set goals at the beginning of the year? Do you wonder why you should even bother?
My answer is this, because YOU are worth it. People who have quit reflecting on their bad habits, mistakes and dreams have often given up the hope of bettering themselves or bettering the world around them. I care for you too much to let you do that without at least having this conversation. It is possible for you to change a bad habit, learn not to make the same mistakes again or begin to accomplish a big dream. Sometimes we just need motivation and direction.
I hope this list of 10 tips for keeping your New Year's resolutions will help you as you attempt to remain committed to your New Year’s promises.
- Don’t make too many resolutions. To begin with focus on just one or two goals for the year. It’s hard enough to follow through on one, why overwhelm yourself with four or five? Pick the one or two you feel are the most important and focus on that.
- Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t perfect from the start. When you say that you’re going to do something or change something, that you’ve either never had the habit of doing before (like exercising) OR have been in the habit of doing for a LONG time (like smoking) don’t expect perfection. Pat yourself on the back for each success, and if you feel like you have failed, forgive yourself, get back up and start again. You haven’t failed, unless you give up.
- Take one bite at a time. Do something small today, something small tomorrow, and the next day and the next and the next. It is amazing what you and I can do if we are persistent. The problem, habit or dream you are tackling may be big, but you can make it manageable by dealing with it one day at a time.
- Decide ahead of time how you’re going to deal with the temptation. The temptation to give up is going to come up. Have a plan for dealing with this temptation. Maybe it’s calling a friend or some other planned activity to keep you on track. Also make a list of the benefits of sticking with your plan, and the disadvantages of giving up.
- Out of sight; out of mind; out of gas. Resolutions are no good if you don’t keep the idea in front of you. Develop a way of keeping your goal in front of you every day. Put it on your fridge, write it on your hand, send yourself a text whatever it takes. The point is that if you don’t keep your resolution in front of you, the pursuit of it will never become a habit. Without habits, dreams never become realities. So find a way to remind yourself every day of where you have determined to go, but also the next step you have to take to get there.
- Make it simple, clear and compelling. Your Resolution may be small or big, easy or challenging. Both are fine, but the important thing is to make it achievable. Make sure you set realistic and attainable goals. If you don’t, you’ll be easily discouraged when you discover you can’t achieve them. If you have a really big goal you’d like to achieve, break it up into smaller, more manageable mini-goals. That way you can track your progress and more clearly see the results.
- Write it Down. I suggest you write it down into one clear statement that fires you up and is easy to remember. When we write down our New Year’s resolutions it forces us to be more clear with what we’re hoping to accomplish. Be as specific as possible about what it’s going to take, as well as what the results will look like.
- Track your progress and reward yourself. Keep track of each small success you make along the way toward your larger goal. This will help keep you motivated. When you reach your goal, or accomplish something you set out to achieve, make sure you congratulate yourself in some special way. This promise of reward will help you to keep moving forward when things get difficult along the way.
- Two are Better than One. If you’re really serious about making (or breaking) a habit, or about achieving a special dream, you need to get someone to team up with you. Someone who will help you stick with it, encourage you, challenge you, believe in you. It can be a friend, a parent, a coach, a counselor, a pastor. And more than one is even better. The point is, people who are really serious about change, never go it alone. They find that key person or persons to help them.
- Change Goes Inside Out. A guy named Stephen Covey once wrote a book about habits. The idea behind the book was that most successful people get what they want…not by luck, not by who they know, not by where or to whom they were born, and not by being in the right place at the right time. They do it by developing a few key habits, and those habits, if maintained, all but guarantee a high degree of success.
You won't accomplish your dreams or change the world overnight, but you can make some progress toward it every day. I'm proud of you! Stick with it!
Life can be difficult and uncertain, especially when faced with the prospect of change. Here are six steps to making any needed change in your life.