7 Ways to Help Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

7 Ways to Help Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

January 3, 2015

As a coach, I am typically asked to help people reach their personal and professional goals.  Often, my clients aren’t sure what they truly want; they just know that the status quo is not working and, together, we work through a discovery process to figure out what they really would like to achieve.

With the onset of each new year, many of us set some personal goals.  In most cases, however, these resolutions are dashed before the month of January is even over.  We fall back into our old patterns of behavior and the changes that we thought we wanted are forgotten.

So if you really want to make your New Year’s resolution come to fruition, what can you do?

  • First, are you really committed to making the change? According to the Stages of Change Model by Prochaska and DiClemente, there are 5 stages to the process: Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance.  Are you still in the contemplation stage—i.e., just thinking about it—or are you truly ready to take action? Your motivation and readiness level is key to achieving your goal, so are you really ready to commit to that exercise regimen?
  • Focus on one thing at a time. If you want to lose 10 lbs. (who doesn’t?) and stop smoking and find a new job and spend more time with the family and exercise more, it’s just too much to change at one time. Pick one goal that is most important to you.
  • Be realistic. If you want to lose weight, be realistic about how much you can reasonably lose over a specified time period. Crash diets don’t last very long. Most weight loss is achieved and maintained by a true change in lifestyle.  Are you really committed to a lifestyle change?
  • Break down the goal into separate, discrete steps and set interim milestones. How do you get started? Breaking down an overwhelming goal into baby steps and setting deadlines to accomplish each one can help you stay focused and assess your progress. For example, if you want to find a new job, set a deadline for getting your resume up to date. Then, set the next deadline to make a list of all of the people (current and past) that you can contact for networking. And so on…
  • Get support from others. Whether it’s looking for a new job or exercising more, you need to build support to make this happen. Support could come from friends, partners, family members, co-workers, and coaches, or anyone who can help keep you accountable, participate with you perhaps, and cheer you on.
  • Fail fast. If you fall off the wagon and miss working out for a week, for example, just pick yourself back up and re-focus your efforts. If you miss an interim milestone, figure out why, accept that you’re human and can’t control all of the events around you, and re-commit to the goal. Your persistence, despite setbacks, will be the key to your success.
  • Celebrate. We often forget to celebrate our accomplishments and thank our supporters. Whether it’s a particular treat that you’ve been wanting or a special time with your family and friends, find a way to reward yourself. Take the opportunity to celebrate each milestone achieved and to thank the people who have helped you get there.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that your goal for the year will be achieved.  However, you have a better chance of succeeding, if it is in alignment with what’s most important to you, and you’ve made a personal commitment.  Gathering the people and resources around you for support is critical.  And like any worthwhile pursuit, it takes resilience and persistence.  Good luck and best wishes for a healthy and happy new year!

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