New Year’s Resolutions

This is the second quarter of 2013, and I thought it was time to check up on our New Year’s resolutions. “You can’t be serious,” you might say, “I made those resolutions months ago,” and I would respond, “I know, and that’s why I asked! How is it going?”

Did you know that 45% of Americans usually make a resolution for the new year, but only 8% achieve the goal they set for themselves? According to SmartBrain.com here are the top five resolutions made for 2012:

1. Lose weight
2. Get organized
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the fullest
5. Stay fit and healthy

Do any of those look familiar to you? They do to me! John Tierney, who wrote Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, says that unfortunately, when it comes to resolutions, we begin with “the best of intentions but the worst of strategies.” I can relate to that. In fact, the truth is, I don’t make resolutions any more because I never kept them. When I read Tierny’s strategies I felt a little better about that decision, since he suggests that you not start on January 1st. You are more successful when you own the start date by choosing a time that you are ready to begin.

You know the basic tips for meeting a goal: make it simple, make it measurable, visualize yourself at the finish line, don’t depend on “feeling like it,” journal, get a partner or support group, use affirmations instead of negative self-talk, and so on. Here is a favorite of mine:

Believe in the promises you make to yourself. If you had a friend who kept making promises she never kept, you would soon discount what she had to say. So, if you make resolutions, or set goals, and then consistently abandon them, you will come to distrust your own words. Here is a suggestion: train your subconscious brain to believe you mean what you say. Make a To-Do List every morning, and list the simple things that you already do. Drink a glass of water, read your email, drive the kids to school. The point is to have the frequent experience of writing something down and then actually doing it. The size of the task doesn’t matter.

Your To-Do List is a promise to yourself, and every time you check something off, you’re reinforcing the idea that if you say it, you will do it. Soon, you will be adding bigger things to your list. Begin when you’re ready, and let us know how it’s going.