Over the course of the year we notice things about ourselves we’d like to improve, skills we’d like to learn, and bad habits we need to break. The upcoming year seems like a clean slate and we get excited at first thinking we are going make great changes in our lives. But what happens? After a week, two weeks, a month maybe, we see ourselves fall back into old habits.
That’s the key – old habits. To form a new habit both our mindset and the foundation we build for ourselves has got to be right. Here we outline how to build a strong foundation and shift your mindset so that your New Year’s Resolutions will thrive and those old habits will stay in 2017.
- Make Your Resolutions SPECIFIC
This is where many of us fall short. It’s very common for us to generalize and create a broad resolution rather than a very focused and deliberate one. Examples:
- GOOD: I want to lose weight
- BETTER: I will exercise 4 times a week to loose 10 pounds by March
- GOOD: I want to read more
- BETTER: I will read 1 book per week
Identifying the actionable tasks that are needed to meet your overall goal is crucial in creating an achievable situation for yourself. When you get very specific, you create more accountability. Leaving any gray area in your resolution will make it much too easy for excuses and procrastination to sneak into your plan.
Also, using specific numbers in your resolution (like “4 times a week”, “1 book per week”, or “10 pounds”) gives you specific guidelines to follow that are easy to keep track of and will provide a deep sense of achievement and satisfaction when reached.
- Identify What is MOTIVATING You
In order to create a strong resolution that won’t expire in the first few weeks of the year, you have to first identify the root cause. The easiest way to figure out what is motivating you, is to ask yourself questions like:
- Why do I want to achieve this goal in my resolution?
- What will be different in my life if I do?
- What will keep me committed?
When asking yourself these questions, it’s important to consider both intrinsic and extrinsic lenses. Are you truly dedicating yourself to this resolution for YOU (intrinsic), or are there other motivators at play (extrinsic)?
For example, if your resolution is to lose weight, maybe it’s not just for your own health and happiness, maybe a bigger reason for you is that you want to be healthy enough to play with your future grandchildren.
A resolution does not need to be completely focused on self-improvement for self-sake, in many cases having a loved one in mind who you’re dedicating your resolution to can be a huge motivator to drive you through the year and hold yourself accountable to.
Once you have identified what or who is motivating each of your resolutions, remind yourselves of them each day. Write it on a post it, set a reminder on your phone, or put their photo on your desk. It’s easy to be excited about a resolution at first and lose interest in a few weeks, forgetting why this was important to you in the first place – acknowledging your motivators each day will sustain your desire to improve.
- Make a VISION
Think about what progress you will have made 6 months after committing to your New Year’s Resolution and make a vision for yourself. What will you be doing in 6 months to keep up with your goals? List specific behaviors and visualize a detailed depiction of your June 2018 self.
If your resolution was to lose weight, this may be your vision:
My resolution to work out 4 times a week with a goal of losing 10 pounds was difficult to stick to at first, but I have made it a solid and natural part of my routine. I am already down 4 pounds and I feel great. I have more energy, I sleep better and I am overall happier with my life. Once it’s warmer out I will incorporate outdoor activities, like running and kayaking, into my workout plans.
The specificity of this vision acts as a halfway marker for your resolution and gives you a clear idea of what to work towards and where you want to be by the middle of the year.
Making a New Years Resolution is really making a new habit.
To adopt a new habit and stick to your goals you have to be willing to put in the effort each day. Your resolution is not simply a wish you put out into the atmosphere when the ball drops, it’s a project that cannot be completed unless you’re dedicated and committed. And like any important project, detailed planning and goal setting is needed to build a realistic, accountable, and attainable end result.
Now, this may take a while – but in order to actualize your resolutions you will need to put a lot of work in, so don’t skimp on the planning phase! Being really intentional and specific in your planning will build a strong foundation for you to work towards achieving all the goals in your New Year’s Resolutions.