No More New Years’ Resolutions

4 Steps to Making Permanent Live Changes

Over the years I have learned that the best way to keep a New Years’ Resolution is not to make any.  Everytime that I would set a resolution I would disappoint myself and then the guilt would set in.  My self-esteem would take a hit and I would slide back into old habits.  There were a lot of reasons why they didn’t work but the biggest reason was that my mind wasn’t in the right place.  They were simply words that I was saying because I thought that was the right thing to do.  I was always setting myself up to fail by making resolutions that were too big, too little, not significant or too significant.  What I had to decide to do is change my thought patterns.  Everything had to be said in a positive, reinforcing way.  Our words affect our outlook, attitude and affect the results that we achieve.  

 Here are four steps to reaching any goal that will help you reach any resolution you are contemplating.

What is stopping you from changing your life?  Are you really ready to make a change?  People who are serious about a goal don’t put the goal off until a more convenient time.  They realize that it can make be a life-changing event and are excited and passionate about making the change.  Tell yourself you are going to make an improvement in your life right now. This minute.

1. Pick one small goal.

Big goals entail lots of little goals, which is why big goals fail.  Making a decision to get up 15 minutes early each morning means that you will need to stop accepting invitations to do things that will keep you up later at night.  It goes hand in hand…go to bed early and get up early.  The key is that you have to do it every night in order for it to become a habit and train your body to get up early.  Big goals need to be broken down into pieces and tackled this way. This is why the classic New Year’s resolutions – lose weight, exercise more, eat better – are guaranteed failures.

2. Give the self-discipline part of your brain a workout.

Pick a behavior that you want to change.  Becoming self-disciplined is a total mindset.  Think of it in this way…the “Rich get Richer” and the self-disciplined become more self-disciplined.  An example of self-discipline would be setting the coffee maker to go off the night.   This will save you time and energy in the morning.  Self-discipline is like a muscle in your brain, and in many of us, it’s a weak muscle. It’s no wonder that it wasn’t a high-priority as people evolved. The impulse for immediate gratification (food) and the need to fight or flee (survival) were stronger than anything in the newer, front part of the brain where delayed gratification (self-discipline) occurs.

So you have to exercise the self-control mechanisms in your brain to make them stronger than the immediate gratification/fight or flight part of your brain. To this end, if you do one, very small thing (like, say, make your bed every morning), then other things will happen without trying. This is because it takes concentration (mindfulness is the buzz word here) to get yourself to change your behavior, even if it’s something seemingly as simple as making your bed. This small step-and the concentration that’s required-stays with you and begins to help you make other changes. Resolve to change one small thing every day. 

3. Tell someone.

Goals that are kept private are not true goals.  Private goals are excuses to not do them. When you win a prize, you tell people, right? Because it’s certain. So why not act like your increase in self-discipline is certain, and tell people about it. Act like someone who is successful, and you’ll become someone who is successful. It’s said so often, but it works. So start believing in yourself. Note that telling people your big goal is actually detrimental to you. But telling friends the small things you are doing right now, on a daily basis, is useful.

Find a supportive friend to share your Goals.  Sure, your friends might wonder why you’re telling them you’ve started making your bed. But so what? It might open the path for conversations about other things you’re tackling as a way to achieve goals. And, ultimately, talking about these things, however little they are, will help you succeed.

4. Hang around successful people.

People who understand goal setting are successful. They have daily to-do lists and they prioritize their goals for their life (and business).   And, most importantly, they attack big goals by breaking them down. They don’t need New Year’s resolutions because they are making resolutions all year long. And keeping them. Find these people and become their friends.  Hang around with them and bid farewell to the New Years resolution frenzy in hello to a self-disciplined and goal driven life.  Live with a Purpose.

Linda Clevenger

Organization Direct