For millions of Americans, January 1st brings the symbolic renewal of intentions for self improvement: the New Year’s resolution. Good intentions for meaningful change are enthusiastically initiated; but one week into 2013, one third of resolutions will have lapsed; by Valentine’s Day half will be broken, and by mid-year 60% of resolutions will have failed. Why does this continue to occur? As a coach, counselor and trainer, I ask my clients to take a hard look at why they desire change and then focus on one goal, because making changes to your lifestyle is hard work. Both of these steps are often overlooked when declaring New Year’s resolutions; but when undertaken, you will increase your chances for success.
Build a Solid Foundation for Change: Go beyond simply stating your resolution and build a solid foundation for change. Ask yourself, why is this resolution important to you? What is motivating you? What are your very personal reasons for wanting to accomplish this goal? It is important that your answers reflect motivation that comes completely from inside you; that they are intrinsically driven. If you are truly vested in the goal, you will be that much more likely to stick with your efforts when inevitable challenges occur.
Focus on one Goal: While getting more exercise, revamping your eating behaviors, and cutting down your spending are all worthwhile goals, the chances of success are diminished if you try to tackle them all at once. Research now shows that willpower can be likened to a muscle; it fatigues when used hard and gets depleted throughout the day depending on how often it is called upon to override temptation. You can strengthen your willpower muscle by:
Hiding temptation – For example, if eating healthier is a goal, keep the junk food out of sight. Take it off the counter, move it from eyesight in the pantry or shelving, or better yet don’t have it in the house.
Avoiding Alcohol – Alcohol greatly diminishes self-regulation.
Getting Enough Sleep – We tend to make poorer choices when fatigued.
Meditating – Studies indicate that ‘improved willpower’ is among the many benefits of meditation.
Monitoring Your Behavior – Journaling your behavior helps keep you accountable and mindful of your New Year’s resolution efforts.
Laughing – A little boost of laughter not only releases endorphins, it is a quick pick-me up for willpower.