How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

by David Bohl

Did you make any resolutions this New Year? You most likely had good intentions when making them, but how are you doing at keeping them?

The most common New Year’s resolutions I’ve seen are to lose weight, make money, and get or improve a relationship. Are these on your list of resolutions?

Most people may write out their resolutions, but I rarely see that they’ve developed a set of actions to achieve their goals. When you want to change a habit or unwanted behavior, you’re going to need more than just the desire or will power. You will need some specific actions, you may need some support and guidance, and you will definitely need accountability. Did you plan these along with your resolutions? I would venture to guess you didn’t!

Reaching your goals or changing habits takes a plan and takes some time. Just think about it. If you’ve had a particular habit for several years, you’re going to need some powerful tools and the necessary time to create a new habit.

For example, if you’re used to having a snack at 11 pm every night, you probably won’t break that habit overnight. You may set a series of actions that begins with having the snack one hour earlier. As soon as you can comfortably do that, you can reduce it to one hour earlier. Then continue to do this until you either give up your late night snack, or substitute it for a stalk of celery or whatever food would allow you to reach your weight goals.

See how that works? Or say you made a resolution to be more organized at work and at home. Now, you have a long standing habit of being a “messy” person. You’ve lived like that for many years, but have finally had enough. So along with your resolution, you have to plan how you will change that habit.

Initially, you might hire a professional organizer to get you started and teach you some organizational skills. You could have that person come back periodically to check up on you and hold you accountable. As soon as you see that your habit has changed, you can let them go or have them visit once or twice a year for maintenance.

How does that sound? You can do that with any resolutions you make. Remember, also, that when you make a resolution, you are making an agreement or a commitment to yourself. Do you honor commitments you make to yourself?

I know we are usually better about honoring agreements to others than to ourselves. So to keep your resolutions, start keeping your word and stay in integrity with what you promise to do for yourself. After all, aren’t you as important, if not more so, than the other people in your life? I would hope you said YES to that!

You can see how keeping New Year’s resolutions takes a little more effort than making them. Here are some suggestions that will help you be among the minority who actually keeps New Year’s resolutions:

1. Set resolutions carefully.

Only choose those goals that are most important to you and that you imagine you’ll be able to achieve. Make sure you have the time, energy, and resources necessary to accomplish the resolution. If you set too many, you could sabotage your efforts. When your daily “to-do” list has more action items than you can complete in a day, you’ll only be frustrated and achieve very little. Your focus should always be on the top priority items each day. That way you’ll always feel satisfied.

2. Schedule specific actions.

List the actions you’ll need to take to achieve a resolution, then, schedule the actions in your daily calendar. Most successful goal achievers spend some amount of time each day toward each goal or resolution. Making an appointment with yourself to take actions toward your goals is as important as the appointments you make with others in your work or personal life.

3. Adjustments & accountability.

Review your goals and actions at the end of each month to assess your progress. You might need to make some adjustments, like adding or removing an action, or checking off a goal you’ve accomplished. You might want to find someone to help keep you accountable if you’re not keeping your agreements to yourself to do what you need to do to reach a goal. Also, look and see if you’ve encountered some obstacles and need to figure out how to overcome them. Some common obstacles I’ve seen are resistance, procrastination, distractions, or avoidance. Can you relate to any of these?

4. Remember to celebrate.

It’s really a shame when I see people achieve a goal, and not even take a moment to congratulate themselves for a job well done before jumping right into the next goal. You worked hard, you overcame challenges, you stuck to your commitments, you took action. Now you deserve to treat yourself for the resolutions you’ve accomplished. Celebrate with whatever feels like a reward—a short vacation, or getting that massage machine from the microcurrent face lift reviews, or maybe a day on the golf course.

Will 2009 be the year you keep your New Year’s resolutions? Let’s plan on it!

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