Make it Work: Keeping on Point Beyond the New Year’s Resolution

In the time-honored tradition of self-improvement starting January 1, it’s our chance to finally conquer the lofty goals that eluded us last year.

Will we finally lose that 10 pounds we’ve been crowing about for the last ten years or so? Will we get rich, quit our lame jobs, and finally visit the Taj Mahal? Well if you are among the 45% of Americans that make a New Year’s Resolution, you have an 8% chance of succeeding.

Yep, it’s a thing almost half of us do, and most of us fail at within the first three months. So we get excited, we get really fired up for about two weeks and then by February, we don’t even remember the promise we made ourselves. We have habits, and we stick with them, whether they are working for us or not.

So if you are one of those people who really want to utilize the turning over of the calendar year as an opportunity, here are a few things to consider.

  1. The less happy you are with your life, the more likely you are to make a resolution. So that impulse to better oneself is an indicator of overall life satisfaction. So is it the ten pounds or is it something else? It’s worth digging a little deeper to discover the discontent. Maybe that ten pounds will take care of itself, if your needs are being met and you are feeling happy and grounded.
  2. It takes a good deal of energy to retrain the brain. If you are stuck in a rut, it takes effort and time to rewire. If your goal is to quit smoking, or to cut out carbs, think about ways to replace that habit in order to reprogram your brain. Need more help? Check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
  3. Success is measurable. People have the most success with their goals when they create benchmarks along the way. So if you are hoping for that big vacation, set up a budget and estimate how much you will need to save each month in order to get there. Discipline can feel overwhelming when the goal is big and abstract, but baby steps make it digestible and doable.
  4. Join a team. If you resolve to use your workout tapes everyday at home, there is a good chance that it will last about a week. Why? Because there is no one there to hold you accountable and no energy to bounce off of. One of the reasons successful,model gyms work is because they build community and support into the program. So if you are determined to finish that novel, join an author group. If you want to run a marathon, join a running group. Keep each other honest and give each other a leg up when someone slacks.
  5. Expect plateaus and setbacks. Often, we give up when the going gets tough. One way to avoid that is to prepare your mind in advance and push past it. You might combat this by setting yourself up with little rewards when you are able to overcome the stumbling blocks. One way of playing the long game here is to create a little time capsule. Write those goals down, picture your ideal outcome and seal it in an envelope with “do not open until 2019” written on it. When we make these promises to ourselves, we really just ache for progress, so envision what that would look like and start taking those first steps.
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