As a human being, our brains are made to love seeing a beginning and an end, so what better time to start a positive new habit at the start of the New Year? By the end of January, however, we often gave up or even forgot our promise to ourselves to manage money better, lose weight, quit cigarettes, or organize more quality time with family.
But it's worth it ! An article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that people who set New Year's resolutions are ten times more likely to make the change than those who don't.
In my job, I help people achieve their goals, every day. My experience - with others and for myself - has shown that what fits the difference between wishing and doing.
1. Be very specific.
Not "I'm going to lose weight" but "I'm going to lose ten pounds by my birthday". Vague goals get vague results.
2. Consider how realistic the goal is.
Ask yourself, on a scale of 0 to 10, how confident are you in doing what you ask? If you're less than 9 out of 10, better rethink the goal. In other words, if saving a hundred dollars a month seems impossible, why not fifty dollars a month?
3. Think about the obstacles.
Is your boss really going to let you leave your job at 6:00 p.m. sharp every day just because you've decided to spend more time with your family? If you rearrange your responsibilities or negotiate a change in your working hours, would you be less likely to have trouble seeing more of your children?
4. Think in terms of baby steps.
Try delaying your first cigarette a little longer each day, for example, or start exercising by adding only five minutes of walking a day to gradually build up to a full run, which will make the challenge easier to manage.
5. Focus on one goal.
Being too ambitious means you run the risk of not achieving any of your goals.
6. Keep a progress chart.
As said above, the brain likes to finish things. Studies have shown that keeping a progress chart helps keep us on track, because we can't support empty cases that we don't tick in the chart, and a full row of cases checked off us pattern.
7. If that doesn't work, determine what would work and continue.
I always tell my clients that unreached goals are not stranded, but a fabulous opportunity to learn what they need to put in place to achieve their goals. If they can't remember to do the task, could the scheduled notifications on their phone help? If their motivation falters, would a long list of the benefits of the new behavior help, displayed on the bathroom mirror for a daily lecture? If you feel alone with your responsibilities, would texting a designated friend every time the task is completed be helpful? Don't give up, keep going!
Give yourself a small price for every step of the way - you deserve it!