The Simple Guide To Making That Change Stick in 2011

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[hana-code-insert name=’social down’ /]“The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we could become.”
Ben Herbster

“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”
Marcus Aurelius

It’s a fresh new year.

Although you can make a positive change in your life at any time most people get an extra dose of enthusiasm around this time of the year. That’s only natural.

But how do you go about making changes that will stick? How do you not wind up in the same place where you started a few weeks or months from now?

Below is a simple guide that will help you to stay on track and help you overcome or avoid some of the most common problems that people encounter when they are trying to make a change.

Choose something YOU really want.

It’s easy to tipsily declare your New Year’s resolution for 2011 when you got a glass of champagne in your hand. Or to just say something to not look totally unambitious when people ask you. But do you actually want it?

Maybe you don’t really want it that much. But the world around seems to want it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve it. But it is a lot better to focus on what YOU really want. Both to steer your life in the direction you yourself want and to create positive internal motivation instead of external pressure you feel you have to live up to. Focusing and working on what you really want to achieve makes it much easier to actually make that change stick.

How do you find out what you really want to do? By thinking and by experimenting and just trying things out (the image you have of something in your head can be very different from the actual experience). Get to know what you really want in your life.

Choose a main focus.

Consider choosing one main area of life to focus on each year. This makes it easier to actually get a lot of things done and taking massive action instead of getting lost in too many commitments and getting worn out by trying to balance all areas of life.

In 2011 I will be focusing on expanding and growing my business (this website, my newsletter and my products). I have also set a smaller, secondary focus on developing and expanding and my social life and deepening relationships even more. These is the same two focuses I had last year and the ones that I want to keep working on and exploring even more this year.

Think about what area of your life that you really want to focus on. It may be the area you know deep down that needs to most improvement. Or the area that you think you will reap the greatest rewards by improving (that is how I chose my two focuses).

Find a way that fits you.

Different things fit different people. It did for example take me quite some time of trying different ways to do cardio exercise before I finally found body weight exercises. And it did take me a while to find productivity habits that makes me very consistent.

Experiment and find what works for you and what fits your personality. This will make it a lot easier to stick to your positive change and develop a relaxed consistency.

Set the goal but focus on the daily process.

I for instance use this when I write and when I workout. I don’t take responsibility for the results in my mind. I take responsibility for showing up and doing my workout/writing. The results – I become stronger and the website/my products grow – come anyway from that consistent action. And this makes it easier for me to take action when I know that is all I need to focus on. Instead of using half of the energy and focus I have available on hoping that I “reach my goal real, real soon”.

Focus on the process and you will be a lot more relaxed and prone to continue than if you stare yourself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as you want to and puts you on an emotional rollercoaster from day to day.

Let other people help you out.

This is so important. Do not try to do it all alone. If you’re about to quit smoking ask others who have overcome the addiction what their best tips are. Do some research online and offline. This can save you pain, frustration and it can help you to keep going.

You can also tell people your goals – face to face, via email, on Facebook or your blog etc. – to get accountability and motivation to take action. And you don’t have to go it alone. Finding someone – an accountability buddy – who wants to make the same change that you want can make things easier.

Use laziness to your advantage.

I’m kinda lazy. But I use that to my advantage by for example not having any sweets or cookies in my cupboards. I only have healthy stuff there. Since I may feel the craving for something sweet or a snack from time to time but I am too lazy to go to the store I wind up eating what I have at home. A simple habit that has helped me to improve my health.

I also know that I am too lazy to go to the gym or go out running three times a week. So I workout at home. This has helped me to have very good consistency.

Such small, invisible barriers can have a great impact on your daily life in the long run. Remove them or use them or to your advantage.

Use reminders in your environment.

I have written about this many, many times since it have found it very helpful for staying on track and making a change stick.

Simply write down your goals on paper and put them where you can’t avoid seeing them every day. Your fridge, bathroom mirror and workspace are such places.

Paper works fine for this but since last year I use a medium sized whiteboard instead . There I can write – in big letters – what my main focus is, what my most important goals are and also any other important thought or perhaps quote that I want to be reminded of each and every day.

Don’t beat yourself up when you slip.

You will most likely have a few bad days and fall flat on your face even if you follow the tips above. The important thing here is to not be too hard on yourself 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.

Look at it like this: 2011 will pass no matter what you do. You will arrive at New Year’s Eve this year too.

So if your fail or make some mistakes, so what? Since the time will pass no matter what you do you might as well try again. By doing that you can make this your most awesome year yet.

Take one small step today.

Don’t get stuck in planning. Or thinking that you will get started tomorrow or next week. Get the ball rolling instead. Do that today by just taking one small step towards what you want.

– – – P.S – – –

Thank you so much to the 1238 people that participated in the short survey before the holidays. You have been a great help and given me new insights on how I can help you even better in 2011.

If you found this article helpful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and Stumbleupon. Thank you! =)

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hi Henrik,

    Great article. I like your point about using laziness to your advantage and was wondering how you use laziness to your advantage work wise (if that’s possible:)

    I too work from home and am finding lately that I’m having a really hard time getting motivated and past my lazy tendencies

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi!

      Thanks for the kind words. Well, you could focus on just doing the most important tasks and eliminate doing the ones that aren’t really that important. And you could get lazy with checking your email, Facebook etc. and do it just do for a short while once a day.

      That is not just about laziness though, it is also about keeping your priorities in check so that you do not have to spend more time and energy than necessary to get the results you want out of your work.

  • New Years is a special time. As they say in Forest Gump “It is a new opportunity, everyone gets a second chance”.

    That is for many true.
    Sure, the opportunity is just as great on january 1st as it is on november 13th to make a change in your life, but it feels stronger on january 1st.

    Set a goal, stick to it, let others know about it, get their help, support and make a plan, follow it and you will complete your goals.

    Thanks for a great article Henrik.

  • Victor

    Helpful, helpful, helpful!!!
    Thank you Henrik!!


  • It’s not about being lazy, it’s about doing the least amount of work to perform any task. Why work any harder than you have to?

  • Thanks for the article. I have found that the best way to make new habits stick is to be as specific as possible about what you are going to do. Many people say “I’m going to lose weight this year”. Change that into “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by February 1st by running 1 mile every day after I wake up”. Setting a deadline for goals adds added accountability as well. Combine that with your idea of an accountability buddy and you will be well on your way to making positive change.

  • I agree tha having your goals posted keeps me focused. I also get up each morning saying, ” Good morning Lord.” Not ,”good lord, morning.”
    Watching God move through each day can also keep me positive. when you see what he does each day, looking for the good in everyone and every incident, one can’t help but stay positive. This past weekend 3000 youth had a retreat praising God. There is good in our future.

  • Very very helpful Henrik, I was feeling a little down because my stats went down a bit… but also I have the confidence that I’m doing the best I can and that I’m doing it for fun, and eventhough I have a small audience they keep coming back, so we are happy about that :-)

    Thanks for sharing

  • Very helpful article! I agree with your advice to sticking with new year’s resolutions. I like the idea of using reminders in your environment. I like to keep a list of my goals and cross items off as I reach them. Also I have a white board above my desk that I write daily goals at the beginning of the day.

    – Charlene Obille

  • Henrik,

    I love this post! I think I’ll use this as a base for a post of my own, in my Norwegian blog. Please tell me if it is okay that I do this or not. =)


    • Hi Milla!

      Thank you very much and sure, feel free to use my post as a base for your post.

  • This is one of the least stressful posts I’ve come across on resolutions and creating change. You make it seem easy – thanks! (This is my favorite one: “Don’t beat yourself up when you slip.”)

  • Great tips about setting goals. I’m amazed by the number of people who don’t bother setting them, and then are surprised when their lives remain stagnant.

    When setting goals, especially big ones, I like to find the one tiny change I can make in my lifestyle to work towards achieving the goal. Implementing something small is a great baby step towards success!

    Keep up the good posts, I’ll be coming back for more!

    Jason L.
    Virginia Hypnotherapist

  • Enjoyed the article. Also, the reminder about posting goals in visible places. I have one question and about not trying to be cute/sarcastic, but a lot of writers suggest posting something on a bathroom mirror. How does that work in a practical sense since bathrooms can become humid and what does someone use to stick the reminder onto the mirror with? I’ve come across this tip before and I can’t understand how it truly works. All the same, thanks for the useful tips that you’ve provided.

    • Hi!

      I used to have a small motivational picture in my bathroom. I stuck it to a wall next to the bathroom mirror by using a small square of paper with some kind of glue on both sides. This square was very easy to remove later on too. I found that gluesquare at my local bookstore, I think people often use them for putting up posters on their walls.

      • Thanks for your reply, Henrik. I think I have an idea of the glue square that you’re referring to. Will give it a try and see how it works. All the Best!

  • I agree with Gillian! This doesn’t pose stress or point a finger at me! LOL! Changes are best pursued – and success celebrated much lovelier – when we know it’s for the better. The keys: know, act and commit. Once we hold these keys, we’re headed for becoming improved persons, not just a changed one.