How to be Successful with New Year’s Resolutions

2020 is a brand new year and a brand new decade and I bet lots of people want to start it with well intentioned New Year’s Resolutions. But how many of those will be kept? Unfortunately, they mostly won't. Why not? Why is it so difficult to keep those New Year’s resolutions? We have all the best intentions and plans to keep them and are really motivated, aren’t we?


Well, let’s have a look at an average list from an average sort of person. Let’s call him Joe Bloggs (I guess that’s an average name).


“In 2020 I want to:


  • Get fit

  • Lose weight

  • Stop smoking

  • Drink less alcohol

  • Get my finances in order

  • Use my car less

  • Do something for charity

  • Get organised”

Now, how many of those resolutions is Joe actually going to keep? He might start out on the first of January with high motivation and best intentions but by the end of the first week, he will probably have had a few cigarettes, a greasy portion of fish & chips, postponed his running or cycling at least twice because of bad weather, and given up on writing down what he spends every day. In other words, things will have gone down the drain again, and by the end of January his resolutions will be nothing but a faint memory and life goes on as usual.


What could Joe have done differently? What would have increased his chances of keeping any of his resolutions? Should he have even bothered?


I will answer the last question first – Absolutely!! With a capital A.


Joe, like so many of us, wants to improve himself and that is a good thing. We all want to better our lives and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s just how we go about it, that makes the difference between failure and success.


What should he have done differently and therefore increased his chances of success?

  1. He should have had fewer resolutions. If you need to make changes in your life, don’t expect to make too many at once. You’re only setting yourself up for failure. If you need to make big changes, choose 1 thing, and 1 thing only that you are going to change. It will keep you focused, and you are more likely to succeed. (If it’s minor changes, don’t attempt more than 3.)

  2. Change the resolution to a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym and stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Let’s take the old favourite of Losing Weight. If you simply state, I want to lose weight, how do you know when you have achieved it? You will have lost weight once you have dropped a pound but that is probably not enough for you, but what is? And by when? Here are a couple of suggestions for SMART goals relating to weight loss: - I want to lose 20 lbs (ca 1 ½ stone) by the end of March. (With an average and healthy weight loss of 2 lb per week this is definitely achievable.) - I am now a size 16, I want to fit into my size 12 dress at the end of March by losing 9 kg. (This is a similar weight loss to the previous one, so again achievable.)

  3. Write your goal down and underneath write specific actions you are going to do to achieve this goal. Make your plan as detailed as you can.

  4. Be accountable. Tell a friend, colleague or relative about your plan and promise them that you are going to stick with it. You have already set yourself up for success by creating a SMART goal and creating an action plan. This step will help you by making it more difficult to give up if you involve someone else in the plan.

  5. Don’t give up if you slip up. If you have a down day and you stray from your action plan don’t give up on the whole thing. Simply restart again the next day with fresh enthusiasm. Remember how often a little child falls before they can finally walk unaided. If we had given up at that stage, we would walk on all fours for the rest of our lives.

  6. Plan a reward. Once you have reached your goal celebrate, do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.


And finally:


"We are judged by what we finish, not what we start." -- Anonymous


"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success." -- John Mason, Writer


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