Once you have chosen your goal, here are some tips for success:
“Do, or Do Not”. If you’re going to make a New Year’s Resolution, then DO IT and do it right! Be crystal clear about what it is that you want and why. Is it REALLY what you want – or something you THINK you should want. If you are not properly motivated to complete your goal, you will probably not have enough commitment to see it through.
Keep your goal in front of you. It’s simple. If you can’t remember your goal, you’re not going to accomplish it. I suggest that you find a way to keep your goal in front of you. I have a list that I use every day. If I want to add a new goal, I simply add it to my sheet. If you don’t keep a to-do list, you can keep your goal in front of you by making it the wallpaper on your phone or computer, make it your password or do it the old fashioned way: write yourself a reminder note. ‘Just make sure you move it around – if you don’t keep it fresh, you’ll stop “seeing” your reminder.
Reasonable Resolution: Start out small. Make it almost ridiculously easy. If your goal is to work out every day, start by walking at a leisurely pace for five minutes. It’s not about the sweat and it’s about the habit. You can always expand on your time and intensity later.
Make it Fun/Enjoyable. If there is any way to make your New Year’s Resolution fun or enjoyable, actively seek out a way to do so. Honestly, I do not enjoy exercise. But I do enjoy video games, which why I use my Wii to stay in shape. Find something that works for you and your goal.
Variety. Whether you want to eat healthier food, make more friends, exercise or have more fun, variety, as they way, is the spice of life. When things get rote or boring, we are more inclined to stop doing them. Don’t wait for it to get old. make a plan from the beginning to keep it fresh.
Be smarter than yourself. Try not to get yourself in a position where you’re white-knuckling. Make a plan to outwit your “present self” later. In the moment, your “present self” might think “one donut won’t hurt” and ruin your diet. Outsmart yourself by not buying the donuts in the first place. Beware of “seemingly unimportant decisions” or SUDs. You can usually tell a SUD because the words “just” or “only” is probably in the sentence. “I’ll just have one” or “I’ll only drive by the liquor store”. You know yourself. Plan for weak moments.
Give in – ONCE in a While. If you are too militant about your goal, it may suck all the fun and enjoyability out of it. So, if it is appropriate, PLAN to give in once in a while. I say PLAN because it is too easy to let your “present self” entice you to give in during a weak moment. If you’re really crafty, you might even use your “give in” as an incentive. For instance, let’s say that you have committed to stay within your budget. You could give yourself permission to spend some extra money on yourself if you stay within your budget for a month.
Support. Support is one of THE key predictors of success. In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky lists Support as one of the five keys of Happiness. Friends and family can offer informational support (tell you about support groups, or good books), emotional support (encourage you to keep going if you lose confidence, share in your struggles and triumphs) and tangible support (lend you a book or give you a ride to a class). Accountability is a huge piece of support. It’s one of the reasons Weight Watchers work. Sometimes accountability is one of the primary reasons and benefits my clients come to therapy. You can succeed by telling others about your goal and/or enlisting an buddy to help you succeed.
If your goal in 2011 is to be Happier, join us in Happiness 101. The next semester starts January 12th. Click here for details.
Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor