How do you stick to New Year’s Resolutions?
If you just heard a collective “Ugh” from the Plan Canvas team, it’s because that is an old, tired question that begins with an assumption that, every year, we have to make new resolutions because we just couldn’t stick to them the year before.
But, hey, all the cool kids are doing it, so let’s jump on the how-to-stick-to-new-years-resolutions bandwagon and offer up a few thoughts.
The feel-good stuff is important, but not everything
To be clear, we believe strongly in the feel-good, softer-side of things, like maintaining a positive attitude, doing for others, and pursuing value-based versus profit-driven goals. We believe in pursuing a purpose that is greater than ourselves.
There is a lot to be said for and a lot that can be accomplished through a focus on these things, but, we have to be a little more pragmatic than just thinking about feel-good, softer-sided stuff.
For example, an article at Inc. entitled Three Tips to Help You Follow Through On Your New Year’s Resolutions recommends the following:
- Don’t be a harsh critic
- Be a better motivator
- Develop self-compassion
These are all excellent character points that make a lot of sense. But in summary, what the article is saying is, “be a better person and you’re more likely to follow through with resolutions.”
There is even some lab work to support this position, but, call us cautiously skeptical. Some of the most hateful people in history were also the most resolved. And how many really nice people do you know that never seem to be able to stick to resolutions?
Which leads us to say…
We are sorry to say, it takes discipline
You can’t just snap your fingers and say, “I am now a better person. I am now more resolved to stick to resolutions than I was prior to the snapping of the fingers!”
Hey, we’d rather have lean muscle mass and a healthy heart without having to worry about nutrition and exercise, but, it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, like anything else worth having, resolve takes discipline.
Are there any magic steps?
Not really. But here are a few steps to follow:
Step One. Define what you want to accomplish. Just say it out loud. Then write it down.
Step Two. Make a proclamation – a mental snapping of the fingers as in to say, “I am going to do this.”
Step Three. This is followed closely by a proclamation that not only are you going to do this, but you’ve GOT this! A positive attitude will dramatically improve the likelihood of a successful outcome, so, you have to genuinely believe you can do it.
Step Four. Track and record your progress. If there is a magic step at all, it’s this one. As you record progress, you begin seeing advances – even if tiny advances. Your mind starts to truly believe, “Hey, I REALLY CAN do this.” You begin to protect that forward progress because you worked hard to achieve it. No one, not even you yourself, is going to steal it away from you.
Step Five. Keep doing Steps 1 thru 4. Make them a habit.
A great place to start
Plan Canvas includes a Personal Plan designed for any individual to use. It focuses on 4 major categories including:
- Current Job
It asks you to document what you want to include in each of those categories – over the short term, mid-term, and long term. You can think of these as your resolutions (and you don’t need a new year to make them).
Most importantly, it then asks you to specify the actions you will take to accomplish those resolutions. Feel-good stuff is necessary but feeling good doesn’t get it done. You have to take action.
Get a coach!
Whatever tools you use, even if it’s just writing your resolutions on a napkin, ask someone to be your coach. It’s the best way to help you hold yourself accountable. The coach can help you keep track of progress, remind you that you are making progress, help you maintain a positive attitude, and be a sounding board for your ideas, no matter how “crazy” they are.
Click here to see our consultant/coach services. Whether it’s ours, someone else’s, paid, or unpaid – GET A COACH!
Here is to the year 2018. May it be a good one.