New Year Resolutions
Planning for a Year of Achievement
It's New Year, and it's a time to face the future with confidence and commitment.
Winning that dream promotion; improving your health and fitness; being more creative; spending more quality time with your family. These and thousands of goals like them are all within your grasp.
Sure, the "Curse of the New Year Resolution" has derailed many an ambition. But it doesn't have to stop yours.
So, relax, and resolve to set successful New Year resolutions. In this article, we focus on how, in 2018 and beyond, you can build the foundations for a fantastic future!
Power Up Your New Year Resolutions
There are two common detours that people tend to make before they even start to set their New Year resolutions. First, they think about what they should do, rather than what they really want to do. Second, they think about what they should stop doing, rather than what they want to achieve.
To be successful at any change, you need to really want it. Unless you take the time to consider what it is you really want, you could make a resolution to which you're not entirely committed.
New Year resolutions can be powerful because making them is such a well-recognized practice. Everyone knows that everyone else is making plans. And what a great mutual support network that can provide!
This external motivation and support, along with your desire to succeed is what can make the difference between success and failure.
Eight Rules for Successful New Year Resolutions
Our eight rules for New Year resolutions will help to set you up for success right from the start.
Rule 1: Commit to Your Resolution
Successful resolutions start with a strong commitment to make a change. To succeed, you must believe that you can accomplish what you set out to achieve. So, keep the following points in mind, when you set them:
- Choose resolutions that you really want to achieve, and make them positive.
- Announce your resolution to everyone around you, they will help hold you accountable.
- Develop a ceremony to mark the beginning of your commitment, this makes it more "real" and special for you.
- Don't leave your choice of resolution to the last minute. Take time to think about your goals. If you don't, you risk reacting to your current environment and missing the bigger picture.
- Questions to ask yourself to determine if you can take ownership of your resolution include:
Is this resolution my idea or someone else's?
- Does this resolution motivate and invigorate me?
- Does this resolution align with other factors in my life, such as my values and long-term plans?
- And, remember, there's no reason why your resolution needs to take all year to achieve.
Visualization is a powerful technique for helping you commit to your goals or resolutions. Try picturing yourself having attained your goal. How do you feel? How do you look? How do others react to you?
By seeing yourself in the position you desire, you can bolster your belief that you can do it and strengthen your motivation. See our article, Visualization, for more on this.
Rule 2: Be Realistic
The key to achieving goals is motivation. But you risk failing if you set the bar too high.
- Consider carefully before setting the same resolution you set last year. If it didn't work then, you need to make sure that there is a good reason to believe that you can achieve it this year. What has changed?
- Aim lower, rather than too high. Aim for something that is challenging, but that you have a good chance of accomplishing.
- Don't bite off more than you can chew. There is no reason to set more than one or two resolutions. Any more than that and you divide your focus and energy.
Rule 3: Write It Down
Put your resolution in writing. It's a simple but powerful technique for making your goal real. There is something inside us that responds with more commitment and drive when we take the time to do this. Consider writing it down on pieces of card and keeping it where you'll see it often. For example, on your desk, on the fridge, or in your wallet.
Rule 4: Make a Plan
This is important, so don't miss out this step!
- Start by envisioning where you want to be.
- Then work back along your path to where you are today.
- Write down all of the milestones you'll need to achieve in between.
- Decide what you'll do to accomplish each of these milestones. You need to know each step and have a plan for what comes next.
Making New Year Resolutions is just one example of goal setting –one of the most fundamental and powerful personal development techniques available. See our article, Personal Goal Setting, to learn more about this.
Rule 5: Be Flexible
Not everything will work out precisely the way that you planned. The first minor obstacle can throw you off course, particularly if you're too rigid in your approach. So, remain flexible and adaptable by following these steps:
- Try to predict some of the challenges that you'll face. Make a contingency plan for the ones that have the highest probability of failure, and mentally prepare yourself for the others.
- Realize that your resolution itself might change along the way. That's not failure, it's reality. If you need to make changes to the goal so you continue to pursue it, do so.
There is no fixed rule saying that a resolution must be set in January. If your circumstances say it is better to wait until March, then do so.
Rule 6: Use Reminders
It can be hard to keep focused on your plan if you have many other commitments, responsibilities and obligations. Develop a formal reminder system to stay on top of your resolution. Do this by taking the following into consideration:
- Have your written resolutions visible. Leave reminders at work, at home, in the car, on your calendar, in your briefcase, and so on.
- Make sure that the planned actions are on your To-Do List.
- Set up reminders of the things you need to accomplish to achieve your goals in your desktop calendar.
Rule 7: Track Progress
You need to know when each milestone is accomplished: your excitement around the little successes will keep you motivated and keep you pushing forwards.
- Use a journal and make an entry regarding your progress regularly.
- Note when you felt particularly pleased with your efforts.
- Note when you felt down or felt like quitting.
- Look back at your entries on a regular basis and learn from your experiences.
- Discuss your progress with family, friends or colleagues.
Rule 8: Reward Yourself
Even the most committed person needs a boost, and sometimes that is best accomplished through a little reward or treat!
When you are developing your plan, make a note of some milestones where you will reward yourself once they are achieved. But spread them out, you want to make sure the rewards remain special and are not too easy to get!
New Year's resolutions can be a pain or a pleasure. The choice is yours. If it's a pain, you may resolve never to make a resolution again. So, resolve to make it a pleasure!
The starting point is to focus on something that you really want and are ready to give your full commitment to. Do this and you'll be in a great position to stay motivated and be successful!
As you plan your New Year resolutions, apply these eight rules to set yourself up for success:
- Commit to your resolution.
- Be realistic.
- Write it down.
- Make a plan.
- Be flexible.
- Use reminders.
- Track progress.
- Reward yourself.
Also, why not share your resolutions in our forum, for extra support and motivation?
Making New Year's Resolutions is just one example of goal setting, one of the most fundamental and powerful personal development techniques available. Click here for the Mind Tools article on goal setting.