How to Make & KEEP Your New Year’s Resolution

By: Stefanie Rose Miles

The no-fail method for keeping your New Year’s resolution…resolve not to make a New Year’s Resolution this year!  No, that’s not fair, nor is it any fun.  Get in the spirit of a fresh start and begin now considering just what might be your New Year’s Resolution 2019.  With just a few practical suggestions you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goal, pioneering the trend of successfully reached resolutions. 

How many years have you resolved on January first to do SOMETHING of considerable significance only to have your resolve DISSOLVE by February?  If you answered “more than once” you are among the vast majority of adults in America.  We can all think of more than one or more things we’d like to change about ourselves or our lives.  Many of us well-intentioned optimists set ourselves up to fail before we even begin. The two most common resolutions that are far more likely to fail than to succeed:  1.) Lose weight 2.) Quit smoking.

The problems lie not within the admirable goals, but within the ambiguity and lack of support and/or detail with which they’re so boldly thrown out to stand.  The two most popular:  Lose weight, quit smoking. Let’s examine, the reasons for the repeated failures of those and all goals in general.

Be Specific.

Losing weight and quitting smoking are not easy undertakings for most people, compared to, for example, waking thirty minutes early every day.  Successfully losing weight or quitting smoking requires far more effort than merely setting an alarm clock every night.  One of the biggest problems is the failure to specify the goal.  How much weight do you want to lose?  What is a reasonable amount of time needed/desired to achieve this goal?  Obviously, regarding smoking, stopping is the goal. 

Take Time to Plan for the Short and Long Haul.

But another failure closely related to lack of specificity is lack of detailing a plan with marked milestones.  Medical advice would be highly recommended with respect to either of the goals aforementioned.  One or more professionals can be the best resources in helping you make both long term and short-term plans with tangible goals as well as serve as accountability partners.  Physicians, nutritionists, fitness specialists, counselors, life coaches, and reliable research information are good resources to consider and/or consult. If your resolution is less or not health-related, doing some basic research into best practices for meeting your objective is helpful.  Talk to someone who has accomplished your mission. 

Know and Have a Core Reason.

Why?  What is your motivation for your aspiration?  There may be multiple reasons or benefits but start with the very core, the force driving you.  Write it down, say it, keep it on hand as a constant reminder.  Be sure to list those additional reasons and/or benefits as well, and revisit them, particularly for the times you need a lift or some reinvigoration.  Your “why” initially may be (or have been) to fit into this dress for my high school reunion.  Unless you truly don’t care if you put back on the pounds the next day, then you need to expand your “why.”  Of course, the reunion can be a motivating factor, but if you want to maintain your new weight, your thinking needs to shift.  Let me give you a personal example. 

Find the Stick-To-It Stuff You're Made Of.

Several years ago my New Year’s resolution was to run a marathon.  I believed in my heart I could do it, I just knew that I needed a bigger “why” than just being able to call myself a marathoner or the added bonus of losing weight, which I didn’t, but that paled in comparison to all the benefits I didn’t even know I’d reap.  Would I give up running just for myself?  Maybe.  Would I give up if I were running for someone else who couldn’t run just a step for reasons having nothing to do with their desire or any self-inflicted?  Not a chance.  I needed skin in the game, and I got it.  I dedicated my training and marathon in honor of a little girl in my neighborhood with leukemia AND in honor of a childhood friend, also battling the disease.  I set a fundraising goal, let people know what I was doing, and let them know how they could support my effort and cause.  I had no idea how much keeping in regular touch with my honorees, hearing the gratitude in their parents’ and loved ones’ voices would inspire me.  As the dollars were adding up, as I looked at my honorees' photos next to my alarm clock each morning, I couldn’t hit snooze.  As I thought of how either of them would give anything to feel well enough to go for a walk, much less for a run, I had no choice but to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Consider the Unforeseen.

As you work toward your goal, life goes on and the world doesn’t stop--neither do deadlines, kids, viruses, or car trouble.  Of course, these things we mostly can’t help, but we can certainly try to plan for them.  Dream up a few most-likely-to-try-to-sabotage-my-goal items, record them, and make a plan for overcoming such obstacles.  I agree with those who say that you are more likely to get out of a good habit if you don’t do it for three or more days.  Too bad the same can’t be said for bad habits!

Be Semi-Flexible.

Just as unplanned life circumstances and events can get in the way, so can planned ones, so plan on it.  There should be times when you allow yourself a splurge or a random day off.  This is not the same as an earned one.  Allow yourself some acceptable exemptions, for example, you decide at the last minute to go out to a late movie Thursday night.  You know you’re going to get home late and you’ll be dragging Friday morning for work.  Give yourself permission to skip your morning workout but make it up after work Friday or one of the two following mornings you hadn’t planned to exercise.  It’s fine to make an occasional deal with yourself as long as you keep up your end of the bargain!  Set yourself a weekly goal so that by the same day each week you just know that you will have read at least seven chapters, eaten at least 21 servings of vegetables, or exercised four out of seven days, for example. 

Remember Life's a Journey, Resolutions are Too.

Resolve to make a New Year’s Resolution in 2019.  And whatever it is, set out to enjoy the journey of achieving your goal.  Don’t take yourself TOO seriously but seriously enough for success.  And once you’ve arrived, there are no rules that you have to wait until the next year to set another goal.  You can change the world one resolution at a time.

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