Another year begins. As the after effects of the New Year celebrations clear, we are starting to think about new beginnings and New Year resolutions. Now is the time to say a big hello to 2011 and to decide to get over all the doom and to make it your best year ever.
Last January did you decide to lose 10 kilos, stop drinking, stop eating anything but veg, walk everywhere, detox every weekend and get lots more sleep? If you are feeling that none of your resolutions last longer than a week here are some actions you can take to make them really last.
1. Limit yourself to one resolution
Make a list of changes you would like to make in 2011 and then choose one, yes only one. Long lists tend to be guilt trips, and guilt is a major demotivator. The chances of success are greater if you focus on one change at a time.
2. Write the resolution down
Writing it down is a magical ingredient to success. Writing it down sets off a domino effect which goes like this: You have the thought, you write it down and make it concrete, that influences your attitude by making it serious, this influences your behavior because you take actions to achieve it and finally it dictates where you put your energy.
3. Focus on the real benefits
Go to the core of what you want, focus on the real change you want, move past the loss of weight to the real gain like a healthier body and more energy. Really think about the experience of having achieved that resolution. Find adjectives to describe how you will feel when you achieve it. This leads you to the real motivator. Imagine saying I will feel healthy, energetic, and excited rather than I will be thinner.
4. Brace yourself for the obstacles
Don’t be a Pollyanna and think that just because you decided to do something it will happen. Increase your chances of success by thinking of the obstacles in advance and preparing for them. If you have made a resolution to get fitter, know that the weather, work pressures, family demands may stop you. Build in indoor exercises, get up earlier and do them before work or family asks you for anything. Remove the predictable obstacles in advance.
5. Enlist help
Tell those nearest to you about your resolution. Tell them how important achieving this is to you and ask them to help you. They know you so they know what demotivates you; they have them on side rather than being “told you so” people.
6. Go for quick wins
You need to build momentum behind your resolution and you do that by getting something done and then moving onto the next thing. If you plan to get a qualification, approach it with a succession of quick
wins: decide subjects, research colleges, list your favorite courses, list requirements, list obstacles, and make financial plans. You decide on the most appropriate steps. The key is to break it up into small wins and to keep moving along.
7. Focus on you
Making a resolution work means giving it time and energy. As it’s a decision to do something new, it will need your attention. If your resolution was to make more time for yourself, because you want to be more than your career, your family or your friends, you will need to say no to people and put the focus on you. You have to give yourself permission to be a little self-centered and put your attention on achieving this.
8. Be kind to yourself
Forgive yourself if you slip up. Don’t chuck the whole project just because you missed a session at the gym, ate a whole cake or missed a class. Perseverance and kindness will get you back on track.
9. No time is no excuse
Saying you don’t have time is a huge cop out, don’t fall for that. If you really want to do something there is always enough time. If you hear yourself saying that just stop and reframe it into “I want this so I will give it time”. Do this every occasion the excuse comes up.
10. Focus on the benefits
Make a long list of the benefits to you of making this resolution happen. Place them where you will see them every day, fridge door, front door, computer screen. They will keep you on track. Get busy on making your resolution work for you and remember you only need to get through the first 28 days and the new habit will be embedded.
Veronica Canning is a motivational speaker and author specialising in women's empowerment and an international consultant on strategic and creative thinking.