26 December 2012
Rethinking Resolutions: Some Creative Ways to Stick to Your Goals

Only 5 percent of people actually stick with their New Year’s resolutions.

This sobering fact underscores something that most of us understand all too well – that change is hard.  So, as you launch your plans for a better you in the year ahead, consider changing the way you make – and keep – your resolutions.

Tell on yourself. Accountability is an incredible motivator. Get on Twitter. Post on Facebook. Send an email to your best friend. Start a blog. Publicly committing to your goal has been shown to make it easier to accomplish.

Get some support. The flipside of making your goals known is that you’ll receive feedback and support. Research shows that having a social support network can be one of the most useful tools in accomplishing your personal goals. So find a buddy, link up and talk often so that you’re getting the feedback and encouragement you need.

Keep it (really) simple. While the behaviors that lead to your goal may be complex, the goal itself needs to be simple. A study out of the University of Toronto examined why self-change attempts fail so often. The authors of If At First You Don’t Succeed: False Hopes of Self Change call this the cycle of “false hope,” which begins when a person takes on an unachievable challenge that fails because the results take too long to accomplish.

Forget the battle, win the war. If you are trying to eat healthier, losing your willpower in a weak moment and gorging on brownies isn’t an excuse to give up. Don’t let a setback derail your entire goal. Get back in the fight!

Break out the spreadsheet. Studies show people who write things down – from what they spend to how they feel after exercise – are more likely to stick to their resolutions. So, before you start any routine, buy a journal to track your goals (or keep one online).

Visualize success. In his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey stresses the need to “begin with the end in mind.” Actually picture the future as it will be when your goal is achieved. Don’t be afraid to get specific. Visualize in great detail, for example, how you will feel standing in front of a mirror admiring your new body and visualize the new outfits you’ll be wearing.

Schedule your goals for high-energy times. Everyone has his or her own productive time of day. So, rather than trying to force yourself to do an after-work workout when you are actually a morning person, set aside the best part of your day for accomplishing your goals.

Think SMART. Use the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines to shape your goals. Be Specific (“Run 2 miles, three times a week”). Make it Measurable (“Improve my mile times by 25 percent”). Keep it Achievable and Realistic. And, finally, make it Timely (“By July 1, I’ll be ready to run my first 5K”).

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