5 Quick Tips for How to Stick to Your New Year's Resolution

I got a request for this topic 🙂

1. Pick one thing. Don’t split your focus.

2. Define your resolution in measurable terms. For example, instead of “save more” you might pick “deposit $100/week into retirement savings account”. Instead of “get fitter,” you might decide on “become able to run 30 minutes without stopping”.

Pick your most-wanted goal first and then define it in measurable and meaningful terms.

(If you’re interested in running 30 minutes, try this Couch to 5K).

3. If the only goal you ever set for yourself is to lose weight, pick something else for a change.

4. Try this. (You might need to read carefully – confusing concept). Instead of thinking about how you are going to stick with pursuing the resolution, think about how you are going to stick with monitoring how well you are pursuing the resolution.

For example, if you have an exercise goal of exercising 3 times per week then you might commit to

-each Friday before leaving work, writing on a spreadsheet how many times you exercised in the past week.

– You might decide that you are going to do this for the entire year of 2011 NO MATTER WHAT.

First, figure out how you are going to stick with your commitment to doing your Friday recording, NO MATTER WHAT.

I’m going to write for the 3rd time… stick with the monitoring NO MATTER WHAT… in case there was any ambiguity!

In some cases you might consider if there would be benefits to publishing your monitoring. In general, I’m not a fan of people announcing publicly that they’re going to do something. (Sometimes this can be like giving your brain the message that you did the thing already and are ready for congratulating yourself). However, reporting when you have already done a specific behaviour is a bit different. For example, over on the Facebook fan page for this blog, I’m reporting which unused item I threw out/recycled etc each day for 30 days. This has been a bit of an experiment for me and I think its helped me stick to the goal (That’s not why I decided to post it but a nice side benefit).

5. Pace yourself. If you have a history of not sticking to things then pick something that is small enough that you can give yourself a success experience. If there is one thing that’s going to enhance your persistence in sticking to future resolutions, its having done so successfully before.

If being all-or-nothing works for you in sticking to goals then all power to you.

However, is your experience that you start with gusto but lose enthusiasm?

If this is you, you can choose a different pattern this time e.g. moderate and consistent, without the boom but without the bust. Doing that is within your capacity. You’re completely in charge.

What are the advantages to you of all or nothing behaviour? Are you afraid that you can’t achieve your goal any other way? Do you not trust yourself that you can commit and follow through on something that is both important to you and a reasonable expectation to have of yourself? Do you not trust yourself that you can repeat an action? Maybe you have lost confidence in yourself? Do you have thought distortions that need balancing out?

Bonus tips.

1. If there is a way of making sticking to your goal automatic then do. For example, set up an automatic deposit from your cheque account to your retirement fund.

2. Once you have your plan. Ask yourself the following two questions

a. “How motivated do I feel to complete this resolution?” on a 0-10 scale, 0 = not at all, 10 = completely.

b. “How confident am I that I will successfully complete this resolution?”

0 = not all all, 10 = completely.

Do this now.

If your answer to either question is less than 8, you need to go back to the drawing board. Make the goal more meaningful or put mechanisms in place to make it more achievable.

Don’t fool yourself.

Are you are “vowing” that this time will be different but planning on using the same strategies that haven’t worked for you previously? You’re not a fool, so don’t treat yourself as if you were !!!!!

Try and figure out the thought distortions that might be leading you to repeat unsuccessful strategies e.g. “when its meant to happen it will*”. Replace thought distortions with more balanced and helpful thoughts. *obviously “when its meant to happen it will” isn’t always a thought distortion but it can be. What’s important is the function of the thought – does a particular way of thinking lead you to helpful or unhelpful behaviours in the specific context you’re interested in? Ask yourself – Does this thought help me in this context or does it lead me off track?