I’m more of a #itstartstoday kind of gal. Therefore, I am not one who sets New Year’s resolutions. I just say “let’s get it done right now,” and thus like to call them “let’s get it done right now” resolutions.
BUT, I also can’t deny that this time of the year is full of juicy passion, excitement, and positive anticipation. Hence, making it a ripe time to ride the wave of resolution and set some goals for yourself for the year to come.
I wrote in the past about how researchers have found that only about 8% of Americans actually succeed at keeping their New Year’s resolutions. That is an appalling number if you think about it. It reminds me of the 1% analogy popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The reason 8% sucks is because it tells me that approximately 8 out of every 100 people in this country experience the satisfaction of reaching their goals. I’d honestly like to see that number be much higher.
You know how it goes with New Year resolutions… you set out to hit up the gym and you are incredibly successful for the first few weeks, but sometime around the last week of January (if you have made it that far) you… well… didn’t make it to the gym. And it goes without saying that your New Year’s resolution goes downhill from there.
The downside of this is that you are training yourself to not trust yourself when you make a decision in the future.
So, instead of hating on the 8%, or the 1% for that matter, focus your attention on asking the right questions, like… how do I become one of the 8%?
How do I keep my New Year’s resolutions?
Ok, first, I recommend that you go read my friend Susan F’s tips on making your New Year’s resolutions stick—she’s got awesome tips!
But, if you feel like you have failed at keeping your New Year resolution, you may want to keep in mind my 5 tips for keeping your “let’s get it done NOW” resolutions:
- Know that you can.
Last year in January, I made the decision that I was going to travel to Japan. I had doubts whether I was going to be able to pull it off—between raising the money for the trip, getting the time off from my day job, and re-learning Japanese, I wasn’t sure I could make it happen.
But I kept my focus on the idea of making this trip happen. Soon, things started to fall into place and my doubt was replaced with excitement and butterflies (the kind you get in your stomach).
You have surely heard the saying “energy flows to where attention flows.” Had I focused my attention on the obstacles in front of me that could limit me from going to Japan, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it right now (or have written two blog posts of my experience traveling overseas).
So, as Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” So you might as well know that you can.
- Have a plan to make it happen.
So don’t just declare you are going to run a marathon and sit on your couch in front of the TV all day. I don’t know what it takes to run a marathon (I’m not much of a runner after all), but you’re going to have to have a plan if you want to be motivated to get off the couch.
One of my resolutions this year is to publish a book. In fact, I have wanted to publish some sort of book for many, many years now. And it is only until recently that I joined NaNoWriMo that I realized that if I wanted to make it happen I had to take small steps towards the ultimate goal.
So what did I do? I found out the average length of a novel: 50,000 words? No problem.
I broke my 50,000 word goal down into a writing schedule I felt was reasonable and realistic for me to accomplish considering all of my other obligations. I have been writing for the last two months and have now completed 2/3’s of an unedited manuscript. That is about 30,000 words in two months.
What is the next step? Edit my manuscript sometime in mid-February after I reach my word count goal.
- Get in the habit.
Of course, saying I was going to write every day was easier said than done. In fact, I only wrote about 30 out of the 60 days. But even though I skipped weekends, my productivity kept increasing. I started out writing 500 words daily and increased my word count to 1,000 words daily—sometimes more. I would even dare say that my writing skills have improved because of this effort.
But creating new habits or destroying unwanted habits (like that ^*&%@ bad cursing habit I have) is not as peachy as it seems. It is a process of trial and error that requires that you understand how habits work.
- Have you set the right resolution?
Did you set your New Year resolution to get a better paying job because you want to have more financial freedom, or because dad will be proud of you?
This is most certainly one of the trickiest things about achieving our goals: knowing why we want what we want, and why we answered that question the way we answered. In case that sounds like a tongue twister, what I mean to say is that self-awareness goes a long way in reaching your goals. And having the right reasons to reach your goal is the only motivation needed to get you there.
So, when in doubt, ask yourself why you want what you want. When you have an answer, ask yourself why again, and again, until you can no longer ask “why”. I promise you this, you will be in awe of your answers.
- Do you have a vision board?
Vision boards are a popular way to represent what you are trying to accomplish with images. The reason they work is because the subconscious speaks a different language than our conscious mind does—the language of the 6 senses. In this case, a vision board creates a visual representation of what you are trying to accomplish.
Think of all of the TV and magazine ads for cigarettes and/or alcohol, and ask yourself for a minute what the advertisement is trying to accomplish. Is the advertisement trying to communicate that if you consume the company’s product you will feel sexy, liberated, and exciting?
In my case, I grew up with commercials of people enjoying coffee drinks early in the morning. These commercials depicted men and women experiencing such satisfaction when they drank their coffee that I couldn’t help but be curious about coffee since I was young. Needless to say, I found that I drink coffee purely out of enjoyment, not for the caffeine. And I do it to emulate that warm and fuzzy feeling of satisfaction that was programmed into my subconscious.
That, my friend, is the power of advertising and using images to program a desired behavior.
A vision board works in a similar way. Again, it is a visual representation that communicates to your subconscious what it is you want to experience in your life. Constantly reviewing your vision board is a surefire way to keep your resolution in the back of your mind.
You can use magazine cutouts and poster board to make one, OR you can create a digital vision board with Pinterest. In fact, check out the one I created over at my Pinterest account.
So there you have it. Happy pinning and happy New Year!
I hope that 2015 brings you much joy and that you find the satisfaction of accomplishing the goals that you are so looking forward to accomplishing. And if you are scared of setting resolutions because you are afraid to fail, know that by getting started you have won half the battle already.
As for my New Year’s resolutions for 2015, I’m proud to declare that I do have several this year:
- Travel to Friday Harbor, WA to see Orca whales in their natural habitat in September.
- Read all of the new books that I own that need to be read (and re-read some old classics).
- Finish and publish my book.
- Continue having “the perfect morning”.
- And keep this plant alive because I am not one to keep plants alive for very long—but I intend to change that:
And the way I am going to accomplish my goals is by trusting in my ability to succeed, having a plan, getting in the habit of success, keeping in mind the reasons I want to accomplish my goals, and mentally rehearsing success.
What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions and how do you plan to keep them?