If you’re like most people you’ll make at least one or two New Year’s Resolutions in the next couple of weeks. If you’re like nearly 90% of the people who make New Year’s Resolutions you won’t keep even one.
Now, I have no proof to back me up on this but I’d be willing to bet that most of the 10% of people who do keep a resolution keep the “fun” ones. The ones where they resolve to eat more chocolate in 2014. I could keep that one without even trying!
Resolutions fail for a variety of reasons; first they are intangible, not actually real, just kind of a thought. I sort of have the feeling that a good many resolutions are made with the “benefit” of liquid lubrication and hence are soon forgotten completely. There are also lots of scientific reasons why our brain can’t process a weak commitment like a resolution but we won’t get into the heavy science here.
Whatever the reason this much seems clear; resolutions are just not an effective way to change or improve your life.
If you want a better 2014 then don’t make resolutions, set goals. I write and speak a lot about a very formal goal-setting process. That’s a big undertaking, many people start that process and just don’t have the discipline to follow-through. So let’s not do the whole goal-setting process here, lets do a little one, an easy one. Let’s talk about setting some goals that anyone, well almost anyone, can achieve.
Let’s set a goal to change one little habit each month in 2014. You’ll work on one thing in January and by the end of the month when this new thing has become a habit you’ll be ready for another new habit in February.
If you want this to work for you then here’s what you need to do:
Change only one habit a month. No matter how easy this seems early on, don’t get over-confident and try to take on more. Our chances of over-all success go way down the first time we revert back to “old” habits so focus on ONE thing until it has become a part of you.
Start small and stay small. You’ve got a year, there is no need to make big changes on any day when you have the perspective that 365 of those days make a year. You need to do something everyday but you don’t have to do everything on any day. If your goal is to lose weight that make it a habit to switch a candy bar for something more healthy at least once a week. Every week!
Share it with others. Good habit building becomes so much easier when we add accountability. Write down what your new habits will be and tell everyone who cares about you. (Don’t bother telling people who don’t care about you, you’ll find that they are a major obstacle to your success) Ask them to help by checking on you frequently. Report your results to them; go ahead and brag a little bit, after all, you’re building a better life for yourself.
Reward yourself. All work and no play doesn’t just make you boring, in all likelihood it makes you less than successful too. If you’re going to develop new, better habits in 2014 then there needs to be something tangible in it for you. That doesn’t make you a selfish or greedy person, it makes you human. That’s just the way it is. So give yourself small rewards along the way; just make certain the rewards don’t conflict with the new habit you’re trying to develop.
Before we begin how about one final New Year’s Resolution? Let’s all resolve to make no more resolutions.
Now that’s a habit I could get used to!