How to Make New Year Resolutions Stick
Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights
It’s the start of a new year, which means a lot of us will be making resolutions. Maybe you’re thinking about a new job, a change of career, travel or losing weight. More often than not our self-promises don’t actually happen. We might start off strong, but after a few weeks we fall back into old habits. Here’s how to avoid the common pitfalls and make your resolutions stick.
Before setting yourself any resolutions bear in mind that new ways of doing things generally don’t go well to start with. You’re going to feel some pain, but even the professionals slip up sometimes. The difference between success and failure is, in part, due to being aware of the warning signs that you’re not making progress and being agile enough to make changes that will keep you on track.
Here are five other reasons why resolutions typically don’t last:
1) You don’t see results immediately
Think long term. Going to the gym on day one won’t do much to help your weight loss goal, but showing up consistently (and working smartly when you’re there) will. By being consistent you will train your mind to know what to do to create success and over time that makes it easier to show up every day.
2) When you start it hurts or it feels uncomfortable
We tend to avoid pain. You might like the idea of being a public speaker or running 5k but what you don’t like is the process you need to go through to get you there. It might make you feel vulnerable or knock your confidence, but mistakes are fine because they help you to grow and learn. Believe in your big vision and ignore petty criticism, especially if that criticism comes from within.
3) You have unexpected ‘emergencies’ that derail your plans
Roll with the punches. Just because things go off track for a while doesn’t mean you need to stop altogether and give up – keep going. Build slack (gaps) into your diary so that when unforeseen events happen you don’t feel overwhelmed through lack of time.
4) You don’t have the right people around you
Accountability is important. There is an African proverb that says: ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together’. Identify who you surround yourself with. You can control who your friends are and to a certain extent you can control who you spend the most time with at work. Make sure those people will pull you up and motivate you. If you surround yourself with quitters then you’ll instil a losing mindset within yourself.
5) Your ‘why’ isn’t strong enough
if you don’t have a solid ‘why’ then you won’t be able to keep going, especially when times are tough.
So now you’re familiar with what won’t work, it’s time to focus on the things that will work.
Here are three ways to make your resolutions sticky:
1) Solidify your ‘why’
Write down what your ‘why’ is and then drill down further and ask yourself ‘why’ five more times in relation to that same goal. If you really want to get to the core of why you’re doing something challenging yourself in this way at the start will ensure that what you want to achieve really aligns with who you are and what you value most. Once you’re comfortable with your ‘why’ write down your resolution and put it somewhere where you will read it every day.
2) Establish rituals
Rituals are different to habits. Rituals are the framework that wraps around your habit and makes success inevitable.
A ritual has four elements:
- The marker – is the reminder to do the ritual e.g. packing your gym bag the night before and leaving it by your front door.
- The routine – is the habit itself. This is the thing you said you were going to do e.g. going to the gym.
- The reward – is what you give yourself when you have executed the routine. Choose something simple that can be repeated e.g. a relaxing shower or diving into your favourite book.
- The tool – is the thing that can help you achieve the ritual. NB the tool doesn’t make everything work. You have to understand your ritual before you get the tool. If you buy new trainers it won’t make going to the gym inevitable, but it might make running a little easier. Only invest in tools once you have carried out steps one to three first.
3) Get around the right people
You can choose who you spend time with. The right people will challenge you, they will have the same ‘why’ as you, they will inspire you and they will also hold you accountable.
If you need further advice, get in touch via My Website or LinkedIn.
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