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How to Make a New Year’s Resolution That You’ll Actually Follow Through With

How to Make a New Year’s Resolution That You’ll Actually Follow Through With
Image by shioshvili (license).

So it’s New Year’s Eve. The fireworks have rained and exploded across the sky, the dessert is all eaten and the champagne bottles are empty. You sit around talking and New Years resolutions come up. “Yeah, this year is gonna be different!”. You feel enthusiastic.

Fast-forward to the middle of January. The weather’s dreary. Enthusiasm has waned, dabbling has ensued. Maybe the resolution is abandoned altogether.

How do you keep yourself from reaching that point? How do actually stick with your New Year’s resolution? Well, in the end it’s up to you and I don’t have a solid plan that will work 100% of the time.

However, I have a few suggestions that can help you to make this year’s New Years resolution more than an empty promise to yourself.

The first 3 suggestions – together with the last one – are probably the most important ones. So if you forget about the rest, try to keep these four in mind.

Choose something YOU really want.

It has to be something you, yourself really want. Or you will find it hard to keep the motivation up. It will be hard to keep going after a few days/weeks. You got 14 days until the New Year is here. Start thinking about what you really want.

And find out what’s in it for you. If you don’t even have a clear picture of why you want to do something then there will be motivational problems. Write down all the reasons why getting your behind in gear and getting a handle on your New Year’s resolution will help you. Remind yourself by reviewing these reasons regularly and by putting them up in visible locations in your daily life.

Choose one thing.

Trying to change more than one habit at the same time is a classic pitfall. It’s possible to succeed with such an ambitious thing but it often takes quite a bit of time and energy. Keeping up with five resolutions at the same time will probably become too much work and you run the very possible risk of getting off the train too early and never solidifying any of your new habits. So focusing on one thing at time can be a more workable strategy.

Focus on the process.

For instance, focus on working out 3 times a week. This focus on the process is very important. For me personally it’s made things a lot easier and it promotes one of the most important things for getting some real results: consistency.

Don’t get hung up on your distant goal of losing those pounds. Focus on the process and being consistent with going to the gym. The pounds will come off. If not, then you may need to educate yourself a bit more and tweak your process. And, if you can, try to enjoy the process as much as you can. It makes it easier to reach your goal. And it makes your everyday life a lot more pleasant. :)

Remember to create a specific goal for the process, not just “I will eat better” or “I will go to the gym often”. Set specific goals that you will focus on. Otherwise there may be a lot dabbling and wishy-washy follow up. For more on pitfalls in goal-setting check out Do You Make These 9 Mistakes When You Set Goals?

Make it easy on yourself.

Work out in front of the TV if that will make it easier. Lift weights in the basement. Buy a stationary bike or a treadmill. Use it while reading, playing videogames or watching a movie. If you know that the darkness and cold of the winter will keep you from going to the gym consistently be creative and try to avoid that obstacle altogether.

Educate yourself.

Learning more about what you are about to do/are doing can be a great help. If you’re about to quit smoking ask others who have overcome the addiction what their best tips are. Do some research on/offline. And, along the way learn and experiment to find the best solution for yourself.

Bonus tip: If you are for example giving up candy, don’t just throw it out and leave a vacuum in your life. Replace the old habit with another habit to make it easier to transition into your new lifestyle choice and reduce sugar cravings. Good replacements to fill your cupboards and drawers with would, in this case, be your favourite fruits, veggies and nuts. You can read more on replacing a bad habit in this article.

If you fail don’t beat yourself up.

You will most likely have bad days and fall flat on your face. The important thing here is not to get yourself down too much and keep on beating yourself up for a week. That could certainly lead to giving up altogether. Plus, it’s kinda pointless. Instead, learn what you can from the experience so you don’t have to repeat it too many times. Then get back on the horse again the next day. And keep going.

Just do it. Even if you don’t feel like it.

This last one is really important for consistency and achieving success. There may come a time when then initial enthusiasm has waned and your motivation is running low.

Then you need to just do it. Meaning: try not to be so wrapped up in your thoughts and emotions. They are just things running through your consciousness. They are not you. They have a tendency of putting up obstacles – almost always imaginary ones too – on your path. Don’t pay much attention to those roadblocks. Just ignore them and plow through.

Even if your mind and feelings are disagreeing with your resolution just go and do it anyway. You can read more about this in Just Do It!

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  • Kevin @ Change Your Tree December 18, 2007, 4:47 am

    Nice list.

    I think it’s important to note that it’s easy to “want” to accomplish something. What people really need to ask themselves is, “am I ‘willing’ to accomplish this?”

    Knowing the difference between “wanting to” and “willing to” is what will allow you to make the most progress.

  • Albert | UrbanMonk.Net December 18, 2007, 5:51 am

    Wow – this is one of my favourite articles yet. It sums up nicely almost everything that I’ve learnt. One thing about “the focus on one thing at a time” – sometimes it can be a bit hard. It’s true that we work so much better like that, but sometimes other things can slip. For example, when I wanted to lose weight, I dropped 40 kilos in 8 months… but once I was happy with that, I moved on to other things, and my weight came piling back on. Kinda sucks, heh.

    Cheers,
    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

  • JEMi December 18, 2007, 6:49 am

    This is a great posting.. I wrote something about New Year’s resolutions a little while back and it was very refreshing to see another perspective.. a good one at that

    I’m happy I found this blog- I really like it

    Keep it up

    JEMi

  • GreatManagement December 18, 2007, 4:09 pm

    Great article. Years ago I often set New Year Resolutions and always failed. For the last few I have never set any – then I couldn’t fail could I??

    This year I shall use the points in this article and I shall tell many people of my one resolution (a little bit of extra pressure and focus).

    Andrew

  • Seeker December 18, 2007, 11:03 pm

    Henrik great article as always!! You’re right on the money about choosing something we really really want. If the desire is half-hearted, then we are likely to fail.

    Excellent tips for all

    —————————-
    My Positivity Blog http://positivityhub.com/

  • Pete Quily December 20, 2007, 9:37 am

    I like number 3 focus on the process. Here’s an alternative to doing new year’s resolutions, try a new year’s theme instead

    http://adultaddstrengths.com/2006/01/03/a-new-years-theme-an-alternative-to-new-year%e2%80%99s-resolutions/

  • Henrik Edberg December 20, 2007, 4:40 pm

    Thank you all for you encouraging words and excellent comments. I really appreciate it.

  • Personal Development for the Book Smart December 20, 2007, 5:25 pm

    “If you fail don’t beat yourself up.”

    That’s true! I just wrote about fear of failure in my latest post:

    Are these 3 Fears holding you back from Success?

    People need to realize that they fail in everything they don’t even attempt.

  • Hope in the field January 1, 2008, 10:33 am

    Just do it!I will not lose my Rew Year’s Resolution this year,Thanks for the inspiration of this beautiful article.

  • Bonus January 8, 2008, 12:58 am

    Keep it Up