Don’t Let This Year’s New Year’s Resolution
Become Last Year’s Pipe Dream
Modified from my January 2020 Rhode Island Natural Awakenings Magazine
Making and then breaking New Year’s Resolutions is an American tradition. Each year, more than half of us say we will make important changes in the coming twelve months. Often with the best of intentions, we declare things like This will be THE YEAR I will…
Find a great job
Get into a relationship
Get out of a relationship
Write the great American novel
Cut down my drinking
or a thousand variations on these themes.
What happens after a person solemnly makes a New Year’s Resolution? Typically, not much. Most New Year’s Resolutions fail within three months. Some don’t make it through New Year’s Day.
We get discouraged when things don’t go easily. We put off our “resolutions” to a better time. Then we even forget we had firmly committed to change in the first place.
As a hypnotist and hypnotic coach, I help people turn their dreams into reality. But you don’t have to come to a hypnotist to greatly improve your chances of success this year.
Working with people who want to make important personal changes, I have come to conclude there are at least five steps to the process of successfully making resolutions that stick.
I have found following these five simple steps will significantly improve your chance of success in making changes from stopping smoking and losing weight loss to dozens of specific, individual issues.
STEP ONE – Get Real with your New Year’s Resolution
Look carefully at your values and challenges. Know what you really want before you declare you will spend the next year achieving it. To be successful your resolutions must reflect your true desires not someone else’s wishes for you.
Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions*
Exercise regularly: 37%
Work harder or smarter: 23%
Eat a healthy diet: 13%
Stop or reduce smoking,
drinking, caffeine or
the use of other drugs: 7%
All others: 20%
*Source: University of Washington Psychology Department
But the first questions to answer are “What change do I really want in my life?”
STEP TWO – Keep Your New Year’s Resolution reasonable and specific
Avoid general New Year’s Declarations like “I will lose weight.” It is far more motivating to set a specific date and weight target. Also, avoid being too ambitious. An 800 calorie a day diet might work theoretically, but practically, how long will you exist on celery and protein shakes before you throw in the towel?
And please one big resolution at a time. Remember the Airport Movie where the Airport Manager decided it was not a good day to stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, stop gambling and give up flight attendants? One big goal at a time is what works not try to change everything overnight and hoping for the best.
STEP THREE – Develop a plan to bring your New Year’s Resolution into Reality
Decide how you are going to support the change you want and begin to establish short-term objectives. The clearer you are about how you intend to carry out your resolution, the better your chance of success.
Get smart about what you want to accomplish. Do some homework. Find out what the best strategies are to achieve your goals.
And avoid using techniques that have failed for you in the past. Don’t become an example of the cliché that doing the same thing over again expecting different results is a sign of insanity.
Be prepared to work at the change. Research shows that if you go into a personal change expecting it may be difficult you will have a greater chance of success than if you tell yourself it will be a walk in the park.
STEP FOUR – Plan where and with whom and if to “go public” with your New Year’s Resolution
Plan to share your resolutions with at least one other person. Once your resolutions are out in the open they assume a life of their own. Breaking a promise to a spouse or friend is more difficult than breaking a secret commitment to yourself alone.
Many people find it helpful to have an “accountability partner”. A professional, therapist or coach, can serve that role. But it can also be a buddy who either has the same issue or simply has your best interests at heart.
And don’t wait till 11:59 PM on December 31st to start planning. People who wait till New Year’s Eve party to make their resolutions usually don’t keep them very long.
Now you are ready for Step Five.
STEP FIVE – Work Your Plan One Day at a Time
Personal change occurs a day-at-a-time. Maybe your Day One will be January One. Or maybe you will decide to make your resolution right now.
But whether you wait until the Times Square ball falls at midnight or decide to start right now, the funny thing about making a change a day-at-a-time is it is always today. Not tomorrow.
People who stay stuck in problems also live one-day-a-time, but the day they focus on is tomorrow or, worse still, yesterday. Tomorrow I will quit smoking (lose weight, get to the gym, stop drinking so much or saving so little, etc., etc., etc.). Or since I have always failed in the past, I am a failure. Why even bother?
People who succeed at making personal changes stop thinking I will change one day and start thinking that today is that day and take the appropriate actions. And this shift makes all the difference in their world.
So why not make this year the year you make one big change in your life that you may well find changes everything?