Now that we’ve made it to mid-February, I want you to close your eyes and think back to January 1, 2015. Probably the first thing you picture is the pain and suffering of your New Year’s Day hangover. Hopefully, though, the next thing you picture is the motivation and confidence you felt as you set and starting working toward those New Year’s resolutions.
Open your eyes and look around you. Most of you probably got a little down after that mental exercise because you realized that those resolutions have gone out the window by now. Don’t beat yourself up too much; studies show that only 8 percent of people who make resolutions actually achieve them by the time the next ball drops.
I was a part of that 92 percent failure-rate until I started making my resolutions with five new strategies in mind. Try them out for yourself as you create new resolutions to achieve by 2016, and I promise you’ll see more success than in years past.
Change Your Thinking
The word “resolution” has now become synonymous with failure. In fact, even just calling your goals “resolutions” almost guarantees you won’t be successful, due to your pre-set mentality. Instead, change your terminology to “goals.” Good goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Modify your goals to reflect those five criteria (think of the acronym SMART) and you’ll be achieving them in no time.
Get a journal. Write down your newly formed SMART goals and pick a time EVERY week to track your progress. Some of your new goals might take the entire year to complete, so if you revisit your efforts on a consistent basis you’ll stay motivated and confident that you’re going to achieve them. This journal is also to highlight your failures as you move throughout the year. Yes, I said “highlight” your failures. Failure is simply an opportunity to learn and grow. If you run from failure instead of facing it head on, it’s likely to repeat over and over. Write down what happened and how you felt about it. Reflect on all weekly writings every now and then.
Set up a Reward System
A final reason why people fail the “resolution” game so often is because they forget the most important part… celebrating their successes along the way! By now you’ve hopefully written your goals down, so make sure you include how you are going to reward yourself for reaching them, including rewards for those smaller milestones in the meantime. Your incentives don’t have to be costly or elaborate, just small things that make you smile. Maybe you’ll take a nice bubble bath every Friday if you achieve weekly success, then spring for a massage if you reach your year-end goal. The possibilities are limitless! Just make sure that if your goal is weight loss, then your reward is NEVER food. (That sends a negative message in your brain that stimulates an unhealthy relationship with food, which is a topic for another day.)
Get a Buddy
Ask someone to hold you accountable. You and this person don’t have to have to same goals, but make sure you’re talking about your goals with them. If you’re accountable only to you, your chances of success dwindle. However, if you know you’re going to have conversations with another person about your success versus failure, you’re more likely to make sure you have more success to discuss. Better yet, start a challenge with a group. A little healthy competition always increases drive and determination!
Make it less about You
By nature, goals are usually pretty self-absorbed. Step outside your own world and create a goal that mirrors your own, but actually does some good for other people, too. If you have a financial goal, include a goal about giving to charity. If your goal involves eating healthier, include a goal about working in a soup kitchen. Nothing feels better than creating a new you while giving back at the same time.