Reflections & Questions

New year, new goals. Tips for resolutions that work!

Image Source: Alison Farmer 2014

I love that the start of a new year inspires people to make resolutions aimed at self-improvement. The challenge is that most of us struggle to live up to those resolutions, so what starts on such a positive note can actually backfire and leave us feeling defeated.

As an executive coach, I regularly work with clients who are trying to create new habits and break habits that aren’t serving them. Here are some approaches that have helped them find success – and can help you honor your resolutions:

Go bite-sized. Instead of setting a grand resolution (I’m going to lose 20 pounds!), identify one small step that you can do every day (I will start each day with a walk around the block). Healthy habits will help you attain a bigger goal – so focus on a small, easily achieved action. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Keep it simple. It’s easy to get overly ambitious, but instead of creating a monster-sized listed with 10 things you want to tackle, choose just one. Committing to do ONE thing is a lot easier to honor than trying to keep ten different tasks in motion. You can always layer on additional resolutions after you’ve firmly cemented your new habit.

Find an accountability buddy. Most of us get by with a little help with our friends, and developing new habits is a perfect time to enlist their help. Making your resolution public or asking a friend to check up on you can provide external reinforcement that will get you over the humps when your own motivation flags.

Reward yourself. Set milestones with rewards to look forward to. I have a friend who is losing weight and for every pound she loses, she donates $10 to the Make-A-Wish foundation. She’s motivated by giving to others, but if you’re motivated by a new purse or a vacation, then use that instead. Whatever will keep your fire lit.

Track your progress. Remember those charts your elementary school teacher kept where your reading (or math) progress was tracked using stars? Even as adults, a lot of us are motivated by visually tracking our progress against goals. Find a method that works for you and update it daily. Tracking my mileage in an Excel spreadsheet is the only way I swam 50 miles in 2014.

Give yourself a reset button. If you have a vague or long-term goal, it’s easy to get off track then feel like it’s a lost cause. Instead, break your timeframe into smaller chunks so that you have the option to reset your resolution rather than giving up on it. As an example, I’ve limited my resolutions to just be for the month of January so I can take stock and check my progress. If I get off track, I have an opportunity to adjust my goal and start again on February 1.

Write about it. Consider keeping a journal to reflect on your progress and challenges. As a coach, I’ve found that my clients reap the most benefits NOT from simply attaining a goal, but from learning about themselves in their pursuit of it. Use your resolution as an opportunity for self-discovery and you’ll find that the journey IS as important as the destination.

What tips and tricks have YOU found effective in keeping on track with honoring your resolutions?

2 thoughts on “New year, new goals. Tips for resolutions that work!”

    1. I’m not saying you’re NOT going to lose the 20 lbs… I’m saying you need a plan! 😉 Oh – and there’s a great book (Immunity to Change) that provides a framework for approaching challenges you’ve struggled with repeatedly.

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