With a few days left in 2014, I'm cleaning my closets, clearing my mind, feeling grateful for this wonderful year, and thinking about the year ahead. As a lover of lists, goals, checkboxes, checkmarks, the Container Store, and colored pens, you better believe I'm setting some New Year's Resolutions as well.
New Year's Resolutions are tricky little buggers. People who make them are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t make resolutions. Yet only 8% of people follow through and achieve what they set out to do (University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology).
So why do our New Year's resolutions fail to motivate us to change? Lack of willpower? I don't think so. No discipline these days? Probably not the only factor.
The problem is many resolutions are destined to fail before the clock strikes midnight because they're either a) not the right resolution or b) not articulated and imagined in the right way. To make sure this doesn't happen to you, here are a few tips and tricks to creating a rock-solid, life-changing, course-altering, New Year's resolution guaranteed to upgrade your life in 2015.
1. Choose the right resolution.
To choose the right resolution ask yourself, "Is this something I really want or something I think I should want?"
For example, I think I should want to always be on time. However, in the grand scheme of things I prioritize other things over precise punctuality like sleep, filling my water bottle before I head out, finding my daughter's left shoe, turning off the lights, all kinds of spontaneous toddler songs and games, and making sure my stove is off (again). Of course I could plan better, wake up earlier, come up with a speedy out-the-door system, but it's just not my goal this year and that's okay (P.S. I might be five minutes late).
Before you choose a resolution, draft a list of possibilities and ask yourself if this is really your goal or does it just sound nice in theory?
2. Focus on the Why.
The most common New Year's resolution is to, "lose weight". This resolution in and of itself is terrible and maybe even counter-productive. I mean come on, who wants to lose weight? Just the phrase alone evokes images of deprivation. You start missing your chocolate cake before it's even left your plate, thinking of all the things you'll have to give up, and imagining yourself struggling through a workout like the early weeks on the Biggest Loser ranch. No. Thank. You.
But when you add the why your resolution comes to life:
This year I will lose weight in order to feel confident meeting new people, easily wear everything in my closet, have energy that doesn't come from caffeine, chase my kids around the playground, feel happy and in control around food, set an excellent example for my family, and feel really, really proud of myself for taking such great care of my body and doing what I set out to do.
When you focus on the whys that are meaningful to you, you're left with a resolution that moves you closer to your ideal state.
3. Add in the details, and don't forget the How.
"Losing weight," is an abstract goal. How much weight would you like to lose? What are the specific changes you'll make in order to do so?
Try this instead:
This year I will lose ten pounds by June 1 by filling each plate halfway with veggies, drinking two large bottles of water first thing in the morning and more throughout the day, working out with my best friend after work, thinking twice about that second glass of wine, and going to sleep when I'm tired.
Now that sounds like a plan!
4. Ditch the wishy-washy, maybe-someday, if-I'm-lucky, language.
A New Year's Resolution is an intention, not a wish. Read that sentence again. Be very clear about the language you choose. Words like might, maybe, could, and hopefully do not belong in your Resolution. You are in charge of your life and your decisions. There's no need to soften your goals with a, "hopefully". Instead of, "I hope to lose weight this year," add phrases like:
- This year I will...
- When I reach my goal I'll feel...
- Success will feel amazing because...
- I'll know I've succeeded when...
- I will succeed because...
5. Picture yourself succeeding.
Take a moment to clearly picture how you will feel when you achieve your goal. On December 31, 2015, how amazing will you feel in that dress or suit? What will it look like? Will you be laughing? Smiling? Completely confident and comfortable? Write a description of this image or find a picture that represents success to you and look at it regularly (like when that bag of kettle chips calls your name).
6. Tell someone.
Share your resolution with a friend who will hold you accountable (not the one who tells you you're always right, the other one). Or better yet, setup a weekly date and check-in regularly to see how things are going.
7. Get Started.
Your turn now. Finish the sentences below to create your resolution.
- This Year I Will... (Add Your Goal).
- In Order To... (Add Your Why).
- I'll Do This By... (Add Your Details And Your How).
- I'll Know I've Succeeded When... (Add Your Image Of Success).
What Will You Do This Year? Hold Yourself Accountable, Share Your Goals In The Comments Below.
This year I will... learn to cook.