I am not a huge fan of New Years Resolutions because I believe that you can choose to make positive change in your life at any time of year, but seeing as how the vast majority of folks find themselves in a reflective position at the end of the year and in search of change, I’m offering my three tips to a successful New Years Resolution.
1. Pick One Thing
So many resolutions sound something like I want to “get healthy” or “have a better relationship with my kids.” While these generalized ideas are certainly noble in their intent they often require a complete sea change in ones life to achieve. In order to have the greatest success in the New Year, pick one highly specific, actionable thing to do differently. While we all want to “get healthy” focusing on everything that contributes to that; improving your diet, creating an exercise regimen, and practicing good mental health habits is just too much to bite off and chew all at once. Instead, pick just one part, for example, improving your diet. Then, pick just one thing that will improve your diet, say eliminating drinking soft drinks. Don’t get caught up in trying to change everything, literally, overnight. It won’t happen and you’ll be left feeling defeated.
2. Make it Scaleable…and Start at the BOTTOM
While shooting for the moon so at least you’ll land somewhere among the stars has its application, its not here. Your plan should not include the words, “if I’m going to fail, I’ll fail big!” Because you know why? You’ll fail. Instead, Pick the One Thing you are going to change and figure out how to do it just a bit at a time. Using the the example of eliminating soft drinks in order to improve your diet, don’t quit cold turkey. If you drink three a day, your resolution should be to drink two. Do that for two weeks, then drink only one for the same amount of time. In six weeks you will be off soft drinks with a lasting change. Start at the bottom and work your way up, towards your goal.
This works because you can celebrate each day, of even the slightest behavior change, as a victory. Victories are contagious, they compound on one another. Just because its small doesn’t mean its not meaningful. This only works if you consciously congratulate yourself each day of your success.
3. Focus. Focus. Focus.
In order to be successful you will have treat your resolution as your sole mission in life. At this point you understand that it should be only one singular, specific, actionable item, that has the ability to be scaled over time. We’re not talking about some massive herculean undertaking that is miraculously going to change your life just because the calendar changed. We’re talking about the equivalent of drinking one less soda each day. As a result, the amount of focus you will put towards your goal will be widely disproportional to what on its face seems necessary. But thats the thing, if you really want to be successful, you’ll have to do it.
What do I mean by focus? I mean leave yourself notes, tell your friends, keep your ONE THING at the front of your consciousness so you don’t slip up or make mistakes. Make a small plan each day for how to get your one thing done and then focus on the plan until you DO IT. Distill your one thing down into a single sentence mantra and repeat it to yourself until its achieved. Again, because you have picked just one thing, and are taking manageable bites, this shouldn’t be asking too much. If it is, return to #1.
Are these suggestions resonating? Leave me a note in the comments with your “one thing.” I’d love to support you along the way.