How to Stick with Your New Year’s Resolutions
It’s that time of the year again. We are almost two weeks into the new year – how are you doing with your resolution(s)? Are you starting tomorrow or have you maybe given up already?
New Year’s resolutions are a tradition in which you resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve your life. For the longest time, I did not make any, or I came up with a myriad of resolutions, but I was never committed and, therefore, never able to keep them or even remember them after a short while. This all changed when I became interested in self growth and for the last five or six years I’ve set an intention for the new year. I commit to only one.
Statistically, only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions, so it was not surprising that I wasn’t able to keep mine. I never asked myself what the importance of this goal was and how it would improve my life. The most common reasons people can’t stick to their resolutions are lack of commitment and not having the time or energy to follow through. Nobody wants to sacrifice for something that they don’t see a lot of value in. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting too many goals, setting unrealistic goals, or getting discouraged too easily.
You will have to make the new goal a priority and carve out time for it in your busy schedule. That means that you will have to allot time to your new goal. You will have to replace an old behavior with the new one. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you cannot expect a different result, right?
You might want to do some soul searching and think about last year’s resolution to see how that worked out. And if it didn’t go as well as expected, then ask yourself, “Why not?” so you don’t go the same route next time. My last year’s intention was to make more friends. Looking back, it worked out pretty well. I have made quite a few new interesting friends with different backgrounds, which was new to me as most of my friends were in the coaching and art scene. And yes, I was committed to taking the time, to be curious, looking for people in new circles, going out of my comfort zone, talking to the person next
to me sitting at the bar. That takes some courage, but it’s so worth it. And what’s the worst that can happen? And once I had made a new connection, I made sure to nurture it by staying connected, sharing and listening, and lots of fun outings. I must add that I like challenges, and new opportunities.
Setting an intent or making a resolution takes some prep work. First of all, you have to know what the new goal means to you. So I asked myself: “Why are friendships important to me and how does it improve my life?” One of my core values is being part of a vibrant community, so there was my answer.
Furthermore, I asked myself what kind of friends did I want to make? I wanted loyal and positive-minded friends with an interesting story, so the relationship would add value to my life and vice versa. What do I want to contribute to a relationship and what do I want to get out of it? I educated myself by reading up on the importance of friendships. So I put a lot of thought into it beforehand. What kept me on track was checking in on a regular basis and being compassionate with myself if I had been slacking. I just acknowledged it and did a reset.
What are the most common resolutions people make?
Spending less money
Working out more
It all has to do with caring and peace of mind. But how can you be more specific so that it works for you? Let’s take a closer look at “eating healthier” and how you can stay on track. The more specific your formulation is, the easier it is to commit and stay with it. Just saying: “I want to live healthier” is too vague. What does that mean? Working out more, spending more time with your family, going to bed earlier? Be clear. Say something like: “I will eat healthier”. That’s pretty clear and now you can ask yourself questions like what is important about that to me and what kind of “bad” behavior am I going to replace with the new “good’ behavior. It takes time to get used to the new behavior, so maybe find an accountability buddy or start a Meetup. Educate yourself on the subject, discuss books, read labels, share easy recipes, visit farmers markets on a Saturday morning together. Make it a fun and exciting process.
For whatever resolution you make, be crystal clear about what you want, why you want it, how it will improve your life, and how you can succeed at accomplishing your goal. Do your research, set attainable goals and carve out time, be committed, find support, and celebrate your achievements.
Having said all that, of course you don’t have to make a New Year’s resolution just because everybody else does it. On the other hand, you can make a resolution whenever you feel like it. Once I had a client who came to me because she had no friends and desperately wanted friends but didn’t know how to go about it. “Nobody likes me,” she said. We took an in-depth and serious look at her relationship with herself. It was a rocky ride at times, but she stuck with it. There were successes and set-backs but eventually it became second nature to forge and nurture friendships. Now she says with a big smile: “Remember when I had no friends at all? Now I have too many.”
Make a positive change in your life, enjoy the process, and celebrate the outcome.
Today’s author: Elisabeth Vismans is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), an Award-Winning Artist, and founder of Quality Within, helping women in transition to find their life purpose. She developed a unique coaching program using the visual language as an extra modality. She is also an Art Instructor and conducts painting and coaching workshops. Learn more about Elisabeth at her website: www.qualitywithin.com, or from her Facebook page.