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Saturday
Dec282013

6 Tips for Creating a Successful New Year’s Resolution

It’s officially that time of year: “out with the old and in with the new”! We’ll soon be ringing in the New Year with excitement and motivation for new beginnings. In keeping with tradition, many of us will spend time creating resolutions for the coming months. How we approach them now (as well as how much work we put in later!) will ultimately determine whether we’ll see these resolutions through. A little strategic thinking on the front end, however, can put our resolutions in a whole new context - and can prime us for ongoing motivation throughout the year. What are these ideas that can boost our chance for success? Below are my six tips for creating the most promising New Year’s resolutions. 

Take the time to reflect.

It’s easy to latch onto common resolution ideas that sound good, but do we spend time thinking through whether or not a particular resolution is right for us? Even worse, do we pick the same resolution year after year simply because we never end up achieving it? This year, try a different approach. Get out a pen and paper. Spend some time reflecting back on the current year: what you achieved, what you were grateful for and what areas of life you would like to improve. Maybe you feel great about the ways you supported your health this year but wondered if you could’ve enjoyed more fun and socialization doing it. Perhaps a different area entirely comes up like taking care of your finances. Whatever the case, this will help you both determine where you’re feeling fulfilled and highlight potential areas for growth. 

Create a vision statement.

Quit smoking, lose weight, get a better job, etc. They’re among the top resolutions made every year. Although each are measurable, a succinct goal doesn’t necessarily transfer to personal commitment. Consider wording your resolution in a way that projects clear personal investment and connects directly to your happiness and health. A good way to go about this is to think less along the line of goal and more about a vision statement. Take a few minutes to write out your core values (e.g. your family, your faith, your relationships, a cherished hobby, etc.). Write down what you need to help live out those values the best way possible (e.g. energy to play with your children, financial savings to travel each year). A resolution will feel more meaningful if it’s rooted in the priority of your personal values and driven by emotional connections. Use these reflections to create a vision statement for the year - a description that literally illustrates how you want to live this year. For example, if you’re feeling unfulfilled in terms of physical wellbeing and believe your life and values are held back by less than optimum health, your vision statement might include “to consistently make decisions and choose behaviors that enhance my health.” Once you’ve created the personal vision, then you can identify what goals are going to help get you there. Example goals for this vision might include “get 8 hours of sleep every night” or “get preventative blood work done once this year,” etc. 

Test your readiness.  

We’ve talked about stages of change before and their significance in goal setting. Effective change-makers often assess and continue to re-assess how ready they are in making change throughout their entire journey. It’s very possible to be passionate about your resolution yet nowhere near ready to start the process. After you’ve spent some time reflecting on where you want to go with your resolution, take the same amount of time to ask yourself how ready you are to make the actual change. If your vision is health-based and you’ve made the goal of working out every morning this week, ask yourself (on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being absolutely positive) how likely you’ll be able to commit and achieve that task. Identify any barriers that would get in the way. If your readiness is 7 or above, you’re ready to embark on your vision, but if it’s below 7, change or revise your goal until you’re confident enough to really begin.  

Journal and review.

Time and time again, journaling can be a powerful tool to measure your progress as well as boost your likelihood of achieving your goals. Take the time each day (or at least each week) to reflect on successes and areas of opportunity. If your resolution is health and weight loss driven, record and reflect on behaviors such as your food intake, exercise program and sleep schedule. Whatever the goal, purchase a nice journal that you’ll want to record in, and get writing. Schedule monthly review sessions with yourself or with a coach to talk through how you’re progressing toward your resolution, and if need be, how you can pivot or create a more achievable plan.

Don’t go it alone.

Although resolutions can be deeply personal, having support can offer you motivation and guidance. Some people find inspiration in sharing goals through their social media outlets to stay on track, while others find more connection with a close friend or coach throughout their journey. An expert or coach can be great for the objective viewpoint and personal expertise they offer. I’ve often even coached couples to be better listeners and support sources for each other when one or both have committed to a major lifestyle change. If you have a partner, now can be a great time to talk (and listen!) about how you each want to better yourselves this year. Gather people around you with whom you can be honest and comfortable as you share your experience. Build the right support circle that is going to work for you.  

Frame it.  

A powerful strategy for embracing your resolution, physically framing your commitment gives it a final stamp of approval and seriousness. I’ve had clients laminate their resolutions and post them on refrigerators or even put them in their car visors to see every day. The goal is to have your resolution statement somewhere where you will see it often as a reminder of what you are working toward this year. If your resolution is related to stress management and you feel most of your stress at work, your resolution might be more effectively displayed at your work desk or somewhere in your office/cubicle. I like to frame mine and put it on my bedroom dresser, a place I look every morning after getting out of bed. Find a place for your framed resolution that will help keep you reminded and motivated throughout the entire year. 

What resolutions are you considering for the New Year? What has been key for you in making a resolution you’ll keep? Share your thoughts, and thanks for reading!

Written by Anika Christ, Senior Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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