It’s the holiday season again and New Year 2013 is just round the corner. The new year frenzy brings with the renewed passion for resolutions and everyone is ready to commit to change for the coming 12 months. We have all made resolutions on new year days and promised ourselves to achieve the goals we set out, however more often than not these resolutions have failed to stick with us. Too often, we run out simple motivation, we are unable to find the resources to achieve or we just become lazy and lose track of our progress. The first few weeks are filled with passion and energy to work towards our resolutions, but a month or two into the new year we fall back into the same pattern as the previous year. So how does one make new year resolutions stick? Turns out, there isn’t a rocket science involved either, all one needs to do is understand some basic facets of human behaviour and apply them intelligently in our lives to achieve our goals with more ease. Here how:
Limit the Number of Resolutions
In our enthusiasm to achieve more and bring about dramatic change, we often end up making too many resolutions at once, and in the effort to focus on all we are in fact unable to focus on even one. The human mind has limited ability to focus on multiple goals, and after a point all these goals cause is distractions and mental confusion. Resolutions are promises of sorts which require self-control and experiments in psychology have proved that even the more devoted of individuals often falter and are unable to keep a promise they made to themselves because their attention was diverted by something else. Diversion can be of any form, big or small, and we may not even recognize its presence until the damage is done. The best way out of this is to actually limit the number of resolutions you decide to keep, channelizing all your focus and energy on a few, achievable goals instead of many.
Write Them Down
Productivity experts abide by the magic of putting things onto paper. The mere act of writing down your resolutions on a piece of paper can be the very start of the process of change, because in writing them down you are bringing them out into the external world, freeing your mind of the burden of remembering the resolutions you make along with your progress on each. You can make goal achievement a more real-time activity, one which you can see and monitor by writing down your resolutions and recording your progress on them on a regular basis. Life is filled with distractions, work, people and other matters which can often derail our plans for action, but one easy way to remain on track is to put pen to paper and write down your resolutions. Make a list even, ranking the resolutions on the basis of importance and get started. You can use any medium that suits you, be it a simple notepad or a digital app.
Involve a Friend from Day One
Having company in your resolution process helps. Not only does a friend serve as an external source of continued motivation, he/she also provides us moral support and shares our experiences with us. If you think you are less likely to achieve a resolution you made yourself, let someone else make resolutions for you this coming new year. Better still, team up with a friend and start working towards the goal together. If your new year resolution is to lose weight, get a friend along and start working out at the gym. Or if you plan on cutting back debt and reducing credit card bills, ask a friend to monitor your usage or even keep them, allowing you to use them only in specific situations. These steps can go a long way in helping your resolutions materialize into actual results, because when working with others we are far more unwilling to let them down, we are more motivated and we function on the principles of conformity which makes achieving difficult tasks much easier having a companion by our side.
Break Down Resolutions and Be Specific
It’s a good idea to break down your resolutions into small chunks which are manageable. For example, if your resolution is to lose weight, then be more specific about your goal such as “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months, and I will do so by going to the gym thrice a week.” Here a simple one line resolution about losing weight has been broken down into smaller details by being more specific about the goal. We have added a basic goal ie. losing 10 pounds, a time frame of 6 months, and an action plan of going to the gym thrice a week. By being more specific and dividing the resolution in such a way we are instructing ourselves as to what needs to be done exactly. It gives us much needed direction. You can further divide your gym schedule into what part of the body you’d like to work on each day. By doing so, you will find a renewed sense of motivation every time you accomplish a smaller chunk of the bigger resolutions.
Take Action by Elimination
Sometimes, resolutions need only some intelligent elimination on our part. This also involves getting ourselves out of the way to accomplish the goals. By this we mean that there are certain things we need to do in order to succeed, and we ourselves prevent us from doing it. If you want to reduce debt, give up the credit cards. If you want stop eating junk food, stop going to fast food restaurants and throw away useless snacks at home. If you want to quit smoking, just stop buying them. What often seems like an impossible task is actually very much possible, but we ourselves end up standing in our own way. We know we must stop buying cigarettes, yet we do; we know we must throw away junk food yet we don’t; we know we should stop using the credit card, yet we don’t give it up. Resolutions often call for action by elimination. We must simply remove problematic elements, the ‘channel factors’ which prevent us from keeping up with our resolutions. What we believe to be a lack of motivation at certain times is actually the presence of these factors or obstacles which prevent us from moving forward.
Make Change the Priority
We all want to bring about positive change in our lives, but often fail to understand that resolutions do require a time investment. If you are serious about changing your habits or picking up a new habit then you need to make change your priority. A positive change can only come by eliminating the negative, and hence it is essential that we recognize both sides of our nature. A positive habit of healthy eating can only be put in place by eliminating the habit of eating fast food. This means that while we must make efforts to start eating healthy, we must also make efforts to cut back on the bad things. This two way process can be difficult to keep up with at times, and our actions start leaning towards either the positive or the negative. We will stop eating fast food and avoid heavy snacking, but at the same time forget to add healthier elements into our diet. Quite honestly, the Caesar’s Salad on the menu isn’t the perfect choice as opposed to a bowl of french fries. These choices require a solid lifestyle change which can only come when you prioritize.
New Year’s Resolution Ideas for 2013
For the coming New Year we recommend focusing on the simple, easy resolutions to accomplish common goals:
Take the Stairs – The easier supplement to a weight loss resolution.
Start Packing Lunch – Reduce eating out during work by opting for the brown bag.
Reduce technology – Turn off cellphones and internet for a while and focus on real time relationships and communication.
Ditch the Credit Cards – Travel with cash and debit cards. Easier way to just cut back on debts.
Eat Breakfast – Not just for the health benefits, but also because a day well begun is one which starts with a good breakfast.