Jan 16, 2008

Recover Your Abandoned New Year’s Resolutions

Statistically most people who start new year’s resolutions drop them by the third week. Regardless of whether it’s because they take on too much or go into them with good intentions but little knowledge of how to achieve them, people need not abandon their resolutions so easily at the first obstacle. Below are suggestions on how to turn things around and restart those resolutions.

Decide on just one resolution

It’s common practice for people to come up with a large collection of resolutions. Big mistake! You simply can’t give 100% commitment to your efforts if it is all spread out between a number of goals. Furthermore, as soon as you hit a rough patch with one resolution (and you surely will), the resulting drop in focus and motivation will have a knock-on effect on your other resolutions. So determine which resolution is most important to you and will make the largest difference to your life, then concentrate purely on that one.

Work out why you failed

Why did you drop your resolutions? What got in the way? There is no point starting up your efforts again if you don’t deal with the immediate obstacles in your way. It could be something as simple as having taken on too many goals (as discussed above), a lack of understanding of effective habit building practices, or it could be something much deeper. For instance, you may be trying to quit smoking yet you are surrounded by fellow smokers all day. Alternatively, you may want to lose weight but you still have a fridge full of burgers and chips.

Break down the resolution into small chunks

View your new year’s resolution with a different perspective. Consider it as a project and break it down into appropriate next actions. That way you will have a much more clear idea of what you are trying to achieve and by having the resolution broken down into manageable chunks you only need to take on as much as you can manage.

Break the timescale down too. Just because it’s a new year’s resolution, doesn’t mean you have to think in yearly terms. If you have a resolution to regularly go to the gym, think about what a reasonable target would be weekly. For instance you could start off aiming to just go to the gym once a week and then when you are settled with that, expand to two days a week.

Accept that you will stumble along the way

Resolutions aren’t an all-or-nothing situation. However, because they are viewed as a once a year deal and get covered so often in the media around the holiday season, they can get built up in people’s heads leading to overly optimistic expectations. It’s important to be realistic about your resolutions and realize that you will come across hurdles along the way. Effective new year’s resolutions aren’t about trying to stay on the bike, it’s about climbing back on again after each fall.

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