I’ve read that while 50% of us actually make resolutions for the New Year, 88% of us fail at keeping them. Not encouraging data, but I know how we can do better at the kept-resolution rate.
Keeping a promise you’ve made to yourself takes discipline, a skill much like any other muscle in your body. It needs exercise and conditioning to be in shape. If you want to get better at it, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t have much will power, calling on it to suddenly be in terrific condition on January 1 may be asking too much.
Vague promises are not useful. Managing stress is fuzzy and not the same as developing the specific habit of turning the email off after 7:00 pm. While many people include eating better, losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting back on liquor intake, and having better work/life balance as goals for the coming year, creating a specific goal can make you 50% more likely to actually accomplish your resolution. Rather than focus on self-improvement you might want to focus on professional improvement and meet with employees every other week for performance management. Make the new resolution something that is important to you with a benefit that is tangible and observable.
If you want to increase the likelihood of successfully keeping your resolution, try following these simple steps:
One Not Some – Choose one thing to do differently. Stack the deck in your favor by putting all of your energy into accomplishing one key change in the coming year. Rather than disperse your energy and willpower, focusing on one major change in your life will increase your odds of success.
Build on Small Wins – When a doctor admonishes you to lose 20 pounds, you might laugh in their face. But when asked if you can lose 5 pounds, it’s a much more doable target. Start with easy victories to build on.
Share – Tell others about your resolution and enlist their help or support. It can make all the difference between failure and success. Other people can have a tremendous impact on your behavior. Sometimes, writing it down and keeping it visible can help you keep your focus on what you want to do. Seeing how you are moving toward achieving your goal can add to your overall happiness.
Rewards Matter – The goal is to keep the resolution for the year but rewarding yourself along the way can keep you motivated. While enjoying desert after losing weight seems counterproductive, a small serving of a favorite sweet won’t add back all of the weight you’ve lost. OR you could reward yourself with something that has nothing to do with calories. A massage has no calories.
Don’t stress too much if your path to success is not straight and true. Setbacks can happen. Unforeseen circumstances make the future impossible to predict with 100% accuracy. Strong willpower is a learned skill, not a personality trait. You can get better with practice.
You’ve got a year to make your success happen. If the past is any indication, it will be here before we know it