Before we look at how to do it, just think about this – a mere 30 days into the new year, and 80% of people that set a new years resolution… have given up.
That is insane.
But when you think about how most people set a resolution… it’s not surprising. Most of the time, we set ourselves up to fail.
Fortunately, I have a 10 step guide to help you set a resolution that will stick.
New Years Resolutions – what’s the point?
When we set a new years resolution, what is it we are trying to achieve? We have a picture in our mind of how we want some aspect of our life to change. There is something about our lives that we are not happy with, or that we want to improve, so we set ourselves the task of improving it. When we think about how to stick to a new years resolution, it’s more than that. We are thinking about how to proactively improve our happiness.
Our lives are largely a reflection of our habits, a reflection of what we put our time into. If you have a habit of spending your money… you’ll be poor. Want to be ripped? Then get into the habit of hitting the gym regularly. If you have the habit of playing video games all day, you’ll be a loser. Got the habit of forming great friendships? You probably feel like you have others you can rely on.
The purpose of a new years resolution, is to set a new habit, to help us create the life that we want. We have a vision of who we can be and what we can achieve, so we design a set of habits that build that vision.
Here’s how to do it right:
How to Stick to New Years Resolutions
1. Set the right type of goal
A lot of times, people set a target, rather than a goal. If you are wanting to make a change, then you need to set a lifestyle goal. A target goal is something like “This year I will reach 5% body fat”. That’s a cool goal… but… every second you are not at 5% body fat… you will feel like you are not accomplishing your goal.
You feel like a failure.
You want to quit.
That does not help you achieve what you want to achieve.
A better goal is “I’m going to plan my meals and goto the gym four times a week, every week, so that I can reach 5% body fat”. Or , if you are wanting to improve your guitar skills a good goal would be “I’m going to practice guitar for an hour each day”.
The goal should be time dedication to the mechanism, not the target itself.
That’s how I took my raw technique with my guitar playing to 18 notes per second. Rather than obsess over reaching a specific speed, I obsessed over consistently practicing the right way. The specific speed I wanted to reach was never a goal, practising regularly followed by beating my previous practice session was the goal. This is the first step in how to stick to new years resolutions.
2. Schedule time and money for your new habit
We are not making whimsical wishes, we are wanting to make a change, to improve something. We are thinking about how to stick to a new years resolution. How to make a change. Changes take time. So schedule it out – now. Find the time in your week where you can put 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 180 minutes; into your new lifestyle change. When can you fit those workouts in? Before work? During your lunch break? In the evening? How frequently do you need to be doing this? Plan it out. If you don’t plan it out… nothing is going to happen.
No Plan = No Action = No Change
3A. Get information
So we have the right type of goal in our mind and we have planned time to work on it, next we need to know what we are actually going to do.
We need a plan.
If you are learning a skill, then get an eBook, or a guide of some sort. Start reading through it and planning how you are going to do those workouts.
Do you need to buy equipment for your new skill?
If you are going to write more music this year, have you got the recording equipment that you need? No? Get it!
3B. Get a trainer / coach / mentor
Want to improve at work? Find someone a level higher than you to mentor you. Want to improve at guitar? Find a great guitar teacher. Want to get fit? Find a coach. Having someone guide you will help you progress faster and easier than you can on your own. Sometimes finding the right coach takes time. You have to go through a trial and error process, just like I did finding the right guitar teacher.
4. Physically write it down and plan it out
Simple, but vital. If it isn’t on paper, it will never happen. Start planning this out and figuring out the details. Your budget, your schedule, when you start. Writing something down makes it so much more real than talking about it. How to stick to new years resolutions? Write them out!
5. Find a hero
I think one of the problems with society at the moment is a lack of heroes to look up to. Find an example of someone who has done what it is you are trying to achieve. Someone you can use as an example, as evidence that what you are setting out to do is possible. Get their biography and read up on them, or find their blog, their records, their work. Find their social media and follow them.
Reach out to them. Find out what they struggled with and what worked for them.
6. Create an accountability mechanism
Humans are lazy. Holding ourselves accountable can be challenging. It’s one thing to say we want to do XYZ… it’s another to actually do it. Thats why you need to create an external accountability mechanism. Maybe you and 2-3 friends meet once every week / every two weeks to discuss your progress?
Maybe you start a blog?
Maybe you join an online community of people doing something like you are?
If you want to become a great runner or a marksman, find a local club to join.
Keep track of your progress. Keep some sort of journal so you can see your progress and make notes on how you solved any challenges that came up.
Not only does this keep you accountable, you create a history of your results. When you are finding it hard to progress… you can look back on how far you have already come. This will help you push to the next stage.
How to stick to new years resolutions – find a way to create accountability… and do it.
7. Test and Review
Once we have those things in place we need to test out our new habit. Is it effective? Is it creating results? If you have a new workout program, try it for a week, don’t see a difference and give up… well that isn’t fair on the program (unless it’s train like a spartan). Changes take time to work.
But… we do need to make sure they are working. If you try a new workout program for 6 weeks and there is no difference… then you need to reassess the program, or be honest about your dedication to it. This isn’t so much on how to stick to new years resolutions as much as it is on how to make progress with your resolutions. But saying that, it is much easier to stick to something when you can see improvements being made.
8. It’s ok to screw up
There will be the occasional day where you pig out on a bag of cookies, spend too much, or snap at someone. Remember that you aren’t perfect… but the image of perfection should light the path. Perfection is something we work towards, but never reach. The idea of perfection is never that it is achieved, but that it helps point us in the right direction. It’s a guide.
A ship uses the light house for direction… but if it tries to reach the lighthouse, it ends up on the rocks. Humans are the same.
When you screw up, just get back on the path. It’s not the end of the world. This is key in how to stick to new years resolutions. If you quit… then you have no chance!
9. Don’t overload yourself
It is easy to get carried away designing all the different things we want in our life. There is nothing wrong with that, but only implement 1-2 things at a time. If you give yourself too much to do, you will overload yourself and you won’t get much of anything done.
Don’t do 12 things at once. Get the hang of 1-2 things, then work on the next 1-2 things. How to stick to new years resolutions? Implement them one at a time.
10. Don’t wait until New Years to make a change
If there is something you want to change in your life, then follow the above process and start making changes. Changing your life is something you can do 24/7… not just on New Years. How to stick to new years resolutions? Why wait? If there is a change you need to make, plan it out and start working on it.
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