Four Key Tips to Successful Resolutions
How to Avoid the Crash and Burn
Making the most of your New Year’s resolutions seems to be a pointless exercise in futility. Successful resolutions seem as far-fetched as Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. Yet, year after year, people make their resolutions for the new year as the old one comes to a close. It’s a time-honored tradition, after all! But really…what’s the point? For the vast majority, their resolutions crash and burn by the end of January…perhaps mid-February at most. But why?
Some of us are not resolution type people at all while others stampede to the New Year’s resolution clifftop like lemmings. I’m somewhere in between. In some cases, I’m like the non-resolution type in that I make goals all year long. I don’t see what’s so magical about January 1st that I should postpone working on bettering myself until that particular date. On the other hand, the new year very clearly symbolizes new beginnings and turning over a new leaf. So I get it, but seeing it from either camp can still be disheartening. What can one do to better the odds of pulling off successful resolutions?
1.Stop Being So Negative
If you think about it, making a resolution at the start of the new year should be a good thing. However, most people view it as a punishment, restrictions, or a chore. A resolution should be about bettering yourself and yet they’re viewed as all the things we know we should do but don’t want to do. As I stated in a recent post New Year’s Resolutions: Artistic Resolutions?, things like diet, exercise, fitness, and health have been in the top two spots consistently for as long as anyone can remember. And every single year 75-80% of the people who make those resolution fail by the end of February. Why?
Well first of all, losing weight and getting in shape is generally viewed from a negative perspective. As in…I can’t eat all my favorite foods anymore, I can’t sleep in because I have to go to the gym, I can’t do my favorite time wasting activity because I have to exercise, exercise is uncomfortable and I don’t like sweating, etc., etc., etc.. Instead of looking at it from the positive side of regaining your health and fitness, of being able to wear whatever you want right off the rack, or of having the abundance of energy that comes with fitness, people focus on how hard it will be and how much work it will take.
2. Adopt the Right Mental Attitude
No one needs to tell you that any resolution you make will require some amount of work and discipline. Nothing worth having was ever easily obtained or achieved. There’s a saying that goes…”If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” Those two ways of thinking are extraordinarily powerful. “I can” leaves doors open in the mind. “I can’t” closes those mental doors decisively. Granted, if you have a huge task ahead of you, it may be completely overwhelming and your mind says “I can’t” almost immediately.
Maybe your resolution is losing weight. The total number may be mind-boggling to you. How are you ever going to reach X number of pounds? Well, you won’t lose it by February, that’s for sure! Change your mindset to only 3-5 pounds from that grand total by the end of January. 3-5 pounds in a month? Completely and totally doable and you won’t have to join a boot camp to do it!
The same can be done for any goal or resolution you might set. Take mine, for example. I don’t have an issue with drawing animals, obviously. But I hate drawing people because my mind tells me, “I can’t”. It’s hard. It’s far more challenging for me to draw and so the easiest thing for me to do is give up before I even begin. Well logically I know that it isn’t impossible. If I can draw animals the way that I do, then the human animal shouldn’t be a complete impossibility. So instead of trying to produce a Cadmus, or a DaVinci, or a Michelangelo, I’ll focus on a nice fluid 30 second gesture sketch. And once I can get those looking believable, I’ll build on it from there.
3. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
The other thing I notice people doing is writing huge lists for their resolutions. I’ve seen some people write lists of ten or twelve different goals. With a list like that, I’d be ready to quit by mid-January! I would say to pick no more than three. You can even categorize your resolutions. For example, every year you can address three areas of your life such as: Health, Family, and Finances. For each of those categories, address one issue. Let’s take Health first. Your resolution could be losing weight or you could forget about how many pounds you want to lose and just resolve to eat better and exercise at least three times per week. The weight will take care of itself. Then for the category of Family, you might set a goal of spending more quality time together, maybe specifically setting a family movie night once a week. The Finance category could involve paying off your largest debt. Your categories can vary depending on what’s important to you. It will be different for everyone. The point is, by giving yourself less to focus on and only targeting a select few goals, your resolution’s success rate will go up.
4. Hold Yourself Accountable
Accountability is huge when it comes to success rates. Take Weight Watchers for example. If you’re a member, there are weekly meetings to go to in addition to your own personal log. In all honesty, you can write whatever you want in your own log, but the numbers don’t lie when you get on that scale in the Weight Watchers meeting. The meetings serve to both encourage you and keep you accountable, not just to yourself, but to those that you happen to build relationships with there. My weight loss didn’t involve Weight Watchers. I did mine on my own, but I also kept my accountability very public via social media. I posted before and after photos. It was terrifying and liberating all at the same time. And I was successful!
My plan for my people drawing resolution is to do the same thing. I will hold myself accountable via social media and post sketches as I go. And hopefully, if I manage to teach myself how to draw people, there should be a marked difference between January’s sketches and December’s.
In fact, you can use this post as your first step towards accountability by posting your resolutions in the comments below!
So to sum things up, resolutions need not be a waste of time or a futile exercise designed to make you feel like a loser. You do not have to be part of the 75-80% who gives up on their resolutions. To recap, just remember…
- Stop being so negative
- Adopt the right mental attitude
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew
- Hold yourself accountable
Also, keep in mind that even if you don’t manage to do 100% of what you set out to do, some progress is still better than no progress! It’s just a matter of continuing on until you do reach your goals. And when resolution time rolls around again next year, this year’s resolutions will already be part of your daily habit and you can set your sights on new goals. Ultimately, resolutions are meant to make us better people, not perfect people. There is no perfect, only better. So if we can resolve to be a better person than we were yesterday, the battle is half done!
Happy holidays, folks! Be safe and stay warm. And let’s ring in the New Year a little older, a little wiser, and with bright optimism.