6 Ways to Make a New Year’s Resolution Stick

Penny ZenkerAccountabilityLeave a Comment

people preparing to run

Tricks To Make a New Year’s Resolution Stick

We all know New Year’s resolutions are a farce. They are brought on from disappointment from last years results, or from the excessive eating and drinking that goes on during the holiday period and leaves you a few pounds overweight and with short term determination to get back into better healthy habits. At year end you have the desire but it isn’t a longing so the feeling fades as quickly as it came to be replaced by some other short term desire.

new year's resolution list written on a notebook

If you want to make a goal stick consider the following 6 ways to create greater accountability and set yourself up for success.

  1. Make a promise – Promises are often more effective than a New Year’s resolution as a promise goes deeper into our psyche. When we give our word, we are challenging our values and self-definition of honesty and integrity if we don’t do it.

“I will do the my planning for the next day every afternoon” my client told me.
“How will we hold you accountable to do it?” I asked.
“I will do it.” He said with certainty.
I have heard him say that before and then not do it. So I pressed him further, understanding he didn’t want to create any accountability.
I asked him if he valued his word,
Of course he said “yes.”
“Do you promise you will do it?” I asked. He shifted in his seat and started to come up with how it might now always be possible.
“Can you promise for one week?” I asked.

I got him to promise for one week. He did it every day that week. That promise got him in a routine and created momentum. When you promise yourself that is one thing, but to promise a third party means more to us. We perform better when being watched and when we commit to others.

Are you ready to get some outside accountability? Promise?

  1. Get a buddy – The best way to follow through with anything is to create accountability to help us follow through. f you are looking to get fit and go to the gym 3 times a week. Get someone to go with you, join a class, pay a trainer. These are ways to push you to follow through even when you don’t feel like it. That is why we give up- we give into our excuses. Its cold, you went t bed late, your tired or whatever your excuse is. We are less likely to voice our excuses to our buddy and when we are really a good friend or buddy, we don’t let them get away with them either. You keep each other going.
  1. Competition – By competing with others you are creating some drive inside to take the goal outside of yourself. We all want to win and it is more fun and more of psychological win when we have an opponent. Yes, you can also compete with yourself and set a way to compete with your last score, but the fact is, our competitive nature really kicks in with an opponent. You plan to count your steps, well do it with a friend and see how much more you walk when you can see their progress throughout the day. I created a monster in my boyfriend a few years back. I bought him a Fitbit and he used it to compete. He is very competitive in nature so this was the perfect motivator for his steps. he didn’t pay attention to the weight he wanted to lose which doesn’t feel as good as beating a friend on the number of steps each day. The fact that it created a daily win for him, was creating so much momentum and created some very positive habits of taking the stairs, parking far away from the store , etc. He kept up his 10K steps for the whole year. It wasn’t a resolution but a friendly competition. 

people preparing to run

  1. Set 30 day Goals – Yearly goals can seem too far away and daunting with a whole year ahead of you. It can create a lot of stress with a big goal looming over you. Just plan for the short term. This will enable you to set realistic targets and create specific steps. You can focus on the next step and avoid overwhelm associated with the enormity of the bigger goal.
  1. Feel the pain and pleasure – We are simple creatures motivated by pain and pleasure. At the start of the promise get clear on both. Feel the pain from the consequences of not doing what you say you will. Really associate yourself with all you are giving up or losing as a result of not following through. Feel the worst that could happen. Really push it to feel such regret, sorry, fear. Then on the flip side, feel the pleasure. What will be different in your life? Why is this so important to you? Who will benefit? Really light up the passion and drive with those questions.
  1. Focus on only one thing – The questions might be, how many resolutions are people making? If you focus on one thing you are likely to make progress. If you address all the things in your life you want to change and then set resolutions for all areas-you loose focus. It is stressful to change everything at once. It all falls apart quickly. Focus on only one thing. Select the one thing that when you make changes in this area will have the most influence on all other areas. Now you can set specific actions to support yourself. I noticed that one of my clients week after week wasn’t doing what was on the list of commitments they made. Why? It was just too much. I needed to narrow it down to one thing. This kept him focused, made progress, and then he could add additional items. Maybe you are overwhelmed as it is. Make it easy on yourself and create the focus on one thing for the month and then build from there.

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