Complete those resolutions! Part I
2016 is just around the corner and its New Year’s resolution time again! 45% of Americans will make those pesky resolutions this year and, as you already know, most of them will fail. It is very unfortunate, though, because the New Year is a great time to make the decision to change your life. Personally, I believe that ANY time is a great time but that is neither here nor there. You CAN be successful when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. There are things that you could be doing wrong. Here are some strategies to help do it right:
1) Set specific goals with TONS of detail
Instead of creating a very general goal, be specific. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight,” it makes much more sense to say “I want to lose 20 pounds in 12 months, lose 2 inches off my waist, and drop my blood pressure by 10 points for both numbers.”
Instead of saying “I want to spend more time with family,” it makes more sense to say that you want to bring your family on a vacation to Disney in October of this year for 7 days, where you will stay at a specific resort, and bring your kids to see Elsa in person.
You resolution should not be a single line or, worse, a few words. Write each and every one out in detail. A paragraph is great. Two paragraphs are better. A page is BEST! How much detail can you put into the resolution? Write about how it will make you feel when it’s complete. Health related? Describe how you will feel, look, and be received by others. What will you be able to wear once you have lost the weight? What activities will you do once you have achieved that resolution? You can’t have too much detail!
2) Check in frequently
Don’t just set it and forget it. Schedule time on your calendar for periodic check-ins (the more the merrier). The more frequently you check in on your resolutions, the more likely you are to complete them. This works because it keeps the resolution(s) front and center in your mind. The more you are thinking about them, the more you will be working on them.
When you check in, you should be comparing how you are doing with your goal. If you are off schedule, you can adjust how or how much you are working on a specific objective. If you are not getting anywhere with your goal, you will know to adjust your strategy in order to get different results. By frequently adjusting your strategy and refreshing your understanding of how well you are doing, progress will be more likely.
It will also help keep you motivated. The more frequently you review your goals, the more likely it is that you will keep working on them. Progress is strangely motivating!
3) Create a kick a$$ plan
Great planning is the backbone for completing any resolution. There are two questions that lead to great planning:
- How are you going to achieve your resolution?
- How will you deal with the challenges that come up throughout the year that may interfere with your goal?
Let’s stick with the weight loss scenario. It’s a lot easier when you are looking at a BIG goal to break it into smaller, more manageable pieces, or chunks. If you want to lose 20 pounds in twelve months, you could break that down into losing two pounds per month. Two pounds certainly sounds easier than 20! If you aimed to lose two pounds per month, you would also have a bit of wiggle room at the end of the year. This way, even if you have an ‘off’ month, you could still be on track.
Next, ‘how’ to lose the weight needs to be decided. Clearly, since this is broken out into the whole year, it’s not necessary to starve yourself or run 100 marathons (an important point that is often missed). Simple lifestyle changes here, such as tracking what you eat, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the building where you work, or adding a daily walk into your routine could give you the results you want. When paired with CHECK IN FREQUENTLY (above), you can be sure to tweak your strategy if those activities don’t hit the target that first month.
The second part of planning is to identify all of the different challenges that may hinder your resolution. The biggest hurdle that sidetracks resolutions is that you hit a snag or a delay with no plan on how to overcome it. Perhaps, you break your foot while running and you didn’t plan for the potential of an injury. What would you do? Most people stop completely.
But, if you do some thinking ahead of time, you might say something like “in the event of physical injury, I can do these light exercises to keep moving, make these changes in my diet, and do XYZ tweaks. That way, if you run into the snag, it won’t stop what you are doing because you already knew how you would continue.
4) Design a powerful why
Saying what you want is easy. After all, we all want things in life. Have you noticed, however, that even though you say you want something, you don’t go after it? The most common reason that I find is that you don’t know why you want what you want. Or, more specifically, your why is not compelling.
Do you think it makes a difference if your why is “I want to lose weight so that I am healthier” vs “I have to lose weight because I want to see my grandchildren grow up” or “I have to lose weight because becoming a professional baseball player is my dream and I will never get there if I am not in shape!” When you recite your why, it should make you want to do something right that second. If it doesn’t, then you need to work on your why some more.
What will happen if you don’t reach your goal? What will you lose or lose out on? What will happen to you and what will you think of yourself? More importantly, what will happen if you do accomplish your resolution? What do you get? How will you think of yourself? Picture a future where you reach your goal. What does it mean to you?
Make your why powerful and emotion-filled!
5) Get some help
A big mistake that people make is to try and tackle everything by themselves. There are a few reasons why people fail to ask for help.
- It can be embarrassing to put yourself ‘out there.’
- You are afraid that if you ask then you are not able to complete the goal by yourself.
- You don’t want to feel like there is something wrong with your resolution.
- You don’t want to bother someone else.
- You just want to ‘do it yourself’ so that it is YOUR accomplishment.
I have news for you. No matter how much you work on your goal, you are never ‘doing’ it entirely by yourself. Ever. Does someone need to watch your kids while you go to the gym? Do you need to buy healthy food in order to lose weight? Did you grow it? Is there a road already built which will allow you to get to the gym? I know, we take stuff like this for granted. We don’t associate these things as help because they are a part of everyday life but, guess what? Somebody else does them all.
Asking for help is not about weakness; it’s about leverage. Leverage is the most powerful tool that you can use in completing your resolutions. You When you learn from others how to do certain exercises, pay others to babysit, or ask someone to be a running partner, you are leveraging their abilities. It’s about knowing how to leverage ALL of the tools available to you. Just don’t tell people that they are ‘tools,’ it can be easy to misunderstand. You will be surprised, most people generally WANT to help.
Check out 2016 New Years Resolutions, Part II for more great ways on how to keep those resolutions!