91% of people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions. I’ll show you how to be one of the nine percent who succeed.
I’ve already said it in a recent Freedom Letter and I will repeat it: If you want to change something in your life, do it immediately. This fall, I stopped drinking alcohol from one day to the next and remained abstinent for ten weeks – even though I knew that there would be events during that time where I wanted to drink with friends.
If you’re looking for an excuse, you’ll always find one. After the next party, when you’ve met the woman of your dreams, when you’re pregnant, on January 1st… Attaching resolutions to an external event makes your motivation extrinsic. If you act out of inner drive – intrinsically motivated – you can much better identify with your goal and you’ll be more likely to achieve it.
But now we are facing a new year and you are among those who want to change something. In principle, that’s a good thing, which is why I’m going to show you how to ensure success.
Why do people fail with their resolutions? According to a study, 35% say they set unrealistic goals. Another third did not document their progress. Almost a quarter forgot their resolutions and one in ten made too many resolutions.
So think carefully about what your resolution should be. The S.M.A.R.T. method is a good approach to vet it. Is it specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, time-based? “Healthy living” might be too vague as a resolution. Clearly define what this means for you: exercise (what kind, how much?), nutrition (what not, more of what?), mental health (more learning, less careless scrolling?).
How will you know if you are living your resolution? More on that in a moment… Is the resolution even desirable for you, is it in line with your values and life plans? Can you pursue it with a single daily action? You might want to break down a major goal into sub-goals and individual steps.
To make sure you don’t forget your resolution, write it down and hang up a reminder in a place where you won’t miss it. There’s a note on my screen that says “The time for whining is over!” Until mid-2021, I often blamed others and did not take enough personal responsibility. Thanks to the daily reminder, that has changed dramatically.
For you, it could be a “Screen Free Zone” sign on your bedroom door or the reminder “I eat healthy food” on your fridge. Maybe “I’m making more time for my family” on your phone’s lock screen reminds you to spend less time on social media. Let your creativity run free and tell me what ideas you came up with.
Documenting your progress is both confirmation that you are succeeding and motivation to keep going. For example, take a piece of paper and write down the days of the week in a line at the top and the calendar weeks of the new year in a column on the left. Every day you can fill in one of the squares that result from this. Over time, a picture will emerge that shows you how much you have already accomplished. Remember: Nobody is perfect and skipping a day is only human. However, two days in a row is the start of a new habit.
And it’s best to change those one by one. That is why until now I have spoken of your resolution in the singular. However, if you are anything like me, you’ll want to change many things at once. This doesn’t need to be doomed to failure if you approach it with the right method.
Writing down goals and documenting your progress is the first step to success. Next week I’ll also explain the four steps of a habit and how you can use them to make a single action or a whole batch of actions a habit in the shortest possible time.
In the end, one thing counts above all: your inner conviction. Are you really doing this for yourself? I ended my alcohol abstinence at ten weeks because I was looking forward to mulled wine and eggnog in December. Honestly, it wasn’t nearly as great as I thought it would be. Abstinence has done me so much good. I slept better and had mental clarity that I had not experienced in a long time. So I’ll continue. Not starting on January 1st – I won’t drink any alcohol on New Year’s Eve!
What are your plans for the new year? Are you starting now?
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