New Year’s Resolutions – 7 Tips to Get Them Right!

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.
Joey Adams

New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. But are we missing out on a trick? Could it be that it’s not the idea of resolutions that doesn’t work, but maybe the way we’re setting them needs a tweak?

When trying to change there are small things we can do to increase our chance of success. Here are some that my clients and I have found useful. I hope they help you create a remarkable year in 2013.

1.    Get picky.

I used to make long lists of things I would start in the New Year. Come January 2nd I would struggle to remember what these were, let alone get them done.

Having too much to focus on is distracting. Besides, when our will power starts to wobble the sheer length of our list can make us give up.

Consider picking 1 single resolution this year.

When I tried this I felt like I was aiming low. My resolution was to start  running for 25 minutes, 3 times a week within 3 months. This is the one resolution I’ve ever kept. (Besides, we can always set another resolution 3 months down the line)

What change will have the most impact on your life?

2.    It’s all in the name.

I remember a client having a real aversion to the word ‘goal’. She said it made her quest seem boring, difficult and unobtainable.

This got me thinking about the meaning we attach to words and now I encourage my clients to come up with their own word to define what they want to achieve.

Some use project others use adventure or quest. My all time favorite is ‘promise’. We’ve been brought up to keep our promises and so, at a sub-conscious level, renaming our resolution as a promise can increase our chances of sticking to it.

Try it out, see how it feels for you.

3.    Make it clear.

Our minds are fussy types. They need clarity and specifics to get motivated.

The eagle eyed may have noticed that earlier I didn’t just talk about running, I talked about running for 25 minutes, 3 times a week within 3 months.

For the more fluid and spontaneous among us this might seem a little pedantic but it’s absolutely crucial in getting us motivated to take action.

To get clear ask yourself:

What have you promised yourself?

By when do you want to achieve it?

How will you and others know that you’ve achieved it?

4.    Find the reason why.

Why have you chosen this promise? How will it change your life? How will it affect those around you?

Even with the best-laid plans unless we see the point of doing something we’ll never stick to it.

If you want to keep going even when your promise is hard to stick to, find the reason why. Write it down or create a picture. Do anything that will remind you of this reason because when you feel like giving up this is what will help you push on.

5.    Double your chances of success.

One proven method for getting us to take action is to get someone else involved. They can either join you or hold you accountable for the actions you plan on taking.

For example psychologists have found that people who enrolled a buddy when trying to lose weight were more likely to shift the pounds and stick to their new diet.

In the same way, sharing your project with someone can help give you that extra push when you need it. The key thing to keep in mind is to choose someone who will support you, encourage you and show that they believe in you.

Who is trying to achieve something similar?

Who wants to see you succeed?

6.    Examine your thinking.

Here’s a slightly peculiar fact about me. Up until this year I thought that people who exercised were boring. I equated fitness with discipline, discipline with sticking to the rules and that with boring. I was almost proud of the fact that I was unfit because in my twisted thinking that meant that I was not boring and therefore fun. (I know)

The problem was that I had no idea that all this madness was going on in my head until I stopped to explore my thoughts about exercising. Once I discovered the crazy thinking I worked on proving to my mind that fit did not mean boring. This small change made it a LOT easier to get out of the house and go for a run.

Take some time and explore your thoughts around your promise. What thinking is holding you back? Where’s the evidence for it? What examples can you find to disprove that thinking? Find more about this here.

7.    Reward and Celebrate.

When these tips help you stick to your promise, take the time to give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate the fact that you’ve pushed through. Treat yourself with a reward.

Not only will it feel great but it will get your mind to focus on the fact that you’ve got will power, you DO get things done. And when that becomes part of your identity, well dear reader, a whole new world of possibilities opens up right at your feet.

This year I promise to meditate daily for 15 minutes. What’s your promise?

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Karen is a psychologist and coach. In the past 15 years she’s left her tiny home country (Malta) (it’s in the Mediterranean) to study for a Master’s degree in London, worked as a psychologist for the BBC and consulted for many of the FTSE 100 companies. She’s traveled the world for 18 months, escaped the corporate world and is about to go spend winter in sunny Asia. She founded www.the1bigthing.com to help inspire others to follow their dreams because it was by following hers that she created a life she loves.