This time of year is steeped in holiday traditions and one of the most famous — or infamous — is the New Year’s Resolution. It’s estimated that around 45% of Americans partake in the tradition of setting resolutions, which is about the same number of us that watch the Super Bowl.
The list of the most popular resolutions is fairly short and if guessing them was the entrance exam to Harvard, we would all have a really good chance of getting in: loose weight, get organized, save money, etc…
Interestingly though, folks that study our behaviors and publish papers about it suggest that only around 8% of us will actually have success with our resolutions.
How do we succeed?
I’ve set many resolutions for myself over the years. In fact, tonight I am celebrating 3 years of sobriety — hence the nod to my past with the image of bubbles. In terms of degree of difficulty, there haven’t been any greater than this in my life thus far. I’m not going into any gory details on that in this post, mostly because I want you to be able to relate and apply something to your life. Instead, I’ve thought about this and other resolutions that met success and noted a few similarities in how they progressed from inception to a way of life.
Here’s what’s worked for me:
1. Be specific. Over at Tummel.Me I try to help my clients develop SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific) I didn’t come up with that, but it works. A resolution to loose weight is just too generic to be sticky and in my opinion is destined to fail. Break it down into something specific like a resolution to walk 30 minutes a day, that would be a SMART goal.
2. Tell someone. The easiest way to avoid working towards a goal is to not let anyone know you have a goal to work towards. When you rally those around you to your cause, you will have a built in support system for when you don’t feel like taking action. In fact, you will probably inspire someone to take the journey with you… buddy system.
3. Progress not perfection. If you give up on your first failure you’ll never succeed with this or any other resolution. Pick yourself up, acknowledge you’re human and keep going. It took Diana Nyad 5 attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida and I could insert every other success story you’ve heard about here, but you’ve already heard them.
So when you’re setting your New Year’s Resolutions, or any goal for that matter, keep it simple, tell someone about it and don’t give up.