Resolution Slipping? 7 Tips to Renew Your New Year's Resolutions
Renew Your Resolutions Now!
It's never too late to renew a New Year's resolution. If you still want the results, make a fresh start and go for it. Here are tips and motivation to get you unstuck and moving towards the life you dream of.
Charge Up Your New Year's Resolutions
Ben Franklin's Birthday
January 17th is Ben Franklin's birthday. Coincidentally, it falls on the week by which half of all people who made New Year's resolutions will have given up on them. Ben must be spinning in his grave! He was the man who kick-started the American trek toward self-improvement. What a lousy birthday gift for him—and for us!
If you've slipped up on your New Year's resolution at any point in the year, don't feel bad. You have a lot of company. In fact, you're in the majority: 88% of all people who make New Year's resolutions each year drop out and don't meet their goal.
Wouldn't you like to be one of the 12% who make their goal? It's not about being better than others. It's not even about improving yourself. It's about having more fun. Life will be more fun without those last 20 pounds (that's my goal), without the cigarettes, or with the new job and higher salary. That's why you made your New Year's resolution in the first place.
If you want to renew those resolutions, read on!
7 Tips for Restarting New Year's Resolutions
- No Blame. Just make a fresh start on your resolution like it's the first day. There's no benefit in beating yourself up over the past—no benefit at all, just bruises!
- Write it down. Write down your resolution and read it aloud every day. Even better, write it UP. Write it up IN BIG LETTERS somewhere where you will see it every day.
- Make it daily.
- Measure it weekly.
- Make it fun.
- Make it right for you.
- Make it the right size.
Make a Fresh Start
Tip #1: No Blame: Make a Fresh Start!
New Year's resolutions—or any kind of self-improvement, for that matter—have nothing to do with beating ourselves up, criticizing ourselves, or seeing ourselves as a failure.
My first T'ai Chi teacher said, "Walking is falling down, and then catching yourself with your foot." The first Zen Master I met said, "Enlightenment is: Make a mistake, correct a mistake; Make a mistake, correct a mistake." Many coaches and inspiring leaders have said it doesn't matter how many times we fail or fall down, as long as we get up again and keep going.
There is just one message here: Let go of the past. Come to the present moment. Get up, dust yourself off if you have to, and start walking toward your dream again.
What do we do with that little voice that tells us we have already failed? Give it a hug, and keep walking!
Tip #2: Write It Down and Read It Aloud
A few thousand years ago, humanity invented a great tool: Writing. Use it!
Human memory was never intended to be perfect. If it was, we'd have a hard drive installed in our heads. No, our wetware, our brain, was designed to retain flexible impressions and change them all the time. That's great for survival as a hunter-gatherer, in a world that is always changing.
But if we want to move beyond surviving to thriving, we have to make use of the civilization's most wonderful tools—writing and reading.
So write down your New Year's resolution and read it aloud to yourself daily—or twice a day!
Do You Motivate Yourself Out Loud?
Okay, you say. I see the point in reading my New Year's resolution every day. People are forgetful. We want to run away. Reading the resolution puts it in front of me, so I don't just blow it off.
By why read it aloud? I'll feel stupid doing that.
It may feel stupid at first. That's a protective mechanism around anything new. Do it, and you'll get over it. In fact, toddlers tell themselves what to do aloud when they're learning to talk. They're too wise to be embarrassed!
Why is it important to read our resolutions and plans aloud? There's actually a very good reason to do so. It has to do with your brain.
Most verbal processing when we read silently and think is in the left hemisphere, which is great for language, math, and logic. But that left side is also great for depression, misery, failure, and giving up.
The right brain is for living experience, emotion, and motivation. It is realistic and hopeful. When our right brain is a bit more active than our left brain, we are both realistic and optimistic. We see things as they are, and we are rational. But we have a sense of our own power and possibility. We are hopeful. We are in the zone.
Reading silently is reading with the left brain only. It leads to disconnection and disempowerment, not to action.
Reading aloud puts the message in both eyes and both ears. It puts it in both sides of the brain. You can engage a sense of experiencing and actualizing your resolution—putting it into action right now. When we do this, we are much more likely to move into action, rather than to run away from our resolution and hide.
Read your resolution aloud. In fact, take it one step further—read it aloud while standing in a ready action stance (like a basketball player about to shoot, or even while going out for a walk!
Tip #3: Make it Daily
New Year's resolutions can be done, not in a year, but in 365 days. What do I mean? If you just say, "This year, I will enjoy walking in the park," then nothing will happen. But if you say, "This year, I will enjoy walking in the park every day," and then, every day, get up and walk in the park, you make it happen.
Here's a real example from my own life this year. One of my resolutions is to play flute for a few minutes every day. I wrote that down and read it aloud every day. And, each day, as soon as I read it, I grab my flute and play for a few minutes. Boom! Resolution done. (In fact, as I wrote this paragraph, I realized I hadn't played yet today. So I stopped typing, mid-sentence, picked up my flute, and played.
With time, you won't even need to read the resolution aloud. You'll just remember to do it. When that happens, you know you've created a new habit.
Each and Every Day
Each day and every day mean slightly different things. Every day is our goal: I want to look back and say, "I played flute every day." Each day is the way to get there. Each day, I remember (or remind myself), and I play, whether or not I played the day before. There's no point thinking, "I didn't play yesterday, now there's no point. I give up." Instead, make each day a fresh start. You may be spotty at the beginning, but you'll get steadier as you go.
Tip #4: Measure It Weekly
We make effort towards our resolution each day. But, if we tried to measure progress each day, we'd just be riding on our case. So, we measure weekly. At the end of each week, I say, "My goal is to play flute every day. How did I do?" Maybe I played five times, or six, or even seven. Great! Maybe I played only twice - still great! Yeah, but not Great with a capital G. So I'll do better next week.
When I decide to do better, I make it specific. I have a friend who wanted to add a certain exercise to her morning. Each day, she remembered at the end, when it was too late. Then she wrote it down - just a one word reminder - and, the next day, problem gone - she was doing it.
The best example here is losing weight. I want to 24 pounds this year - and I'm aiming to do it steadily, a pound a week for 24 weeks, or as close as I can. Each week, I check. If I lost a pound or a bit more, great. If I didn't lose a pound, I review my week and see what I ate, what I ate too much of, and how I can get a bit more exercise. Or maybe the issue is stress, rather than eating too much or exercising too little. So I commit to relax more.
The key is: Measure weekly, and correct course. And make that course correction clear and specific - one simple change you think will help. And, of course, write it down!
Make It Fun
Tip #5: Make It Fun!
For many of us, the idea of a "resolution" brings up images of black-hatted Puritan pilgrims grimly doing their duty. The American work ethic is hard at work - and no fun!
It doesn't have to be like that at all. After all, what is the purpose of our New Year's resolution? A better life. And what makes life better? Above all, joy!
Gordon Bethune, the highly successful CEO who turned Continental Airlines around, said he wanted his employees to enjoy their work. He went on to say he didn't want them dancing on the runways! But what he did want - and what he got - was employees who were proud of their work and glad to come to work.
Now, some parts of your resolution may not be easy to make fun. I'm giving up a lot of favorite foods to lose weight. And I'm trying to start my day early with exercise, too.
So I'm setting up extra time in the kitchen to enjoy creating new recipes, and then sharing them here on HubPages. And I'm trying to get out to see - and photograph - sunrise at the beach. And I'll share those photos, too. That's what I mean by making it fun!
How will you make achieving your New Year's resolution fun each day?
Tip #6: Make It Right for You
If you've done Steps #1 through #5, and you are still not clicking in with excitement, then you probably are barking up the wrong tree. What do I mean? No blame, but you probably made the wrong resolution in the first place.
You can't succeed in a resolution that is not true for you. You can't lose weight because other people say you should. You can't make a million dollars if your name is Mahatma Gandhi. Instead, it is essential that you know your own truth.
Take a close look at your resolution, and ask, Is this what I want for me? Is this desire really coming from my own heart? If the answer is "no," don't be discouraged. We are constantly barraged by messages about what we should do. Some of those messages come from people trying to sell something. Some come from fanatics with their own agenda. Some come from well-meaning people who love us, but still they are not us.
A true resolution comes from your heart, and it makes your heart sing. It brings you joy.
So, if your first resolution wasn't right for you, drop it. Instead, find one that does work for you. And start - even right in the middle of the year!
Don't Worry About What Other People Think
Tip #7: Make It the Right Size
Your resolution needs to be realistic. It needs to match your resolve, and your time. If you're a busy mom with three kids and a full-time job, running 10 miles a day might not be the right choice for you.
My mom always told me when I was a child that my eyes were bigger than my stomach - I took more food on my plate than I could eat. And we all have very full plates these days!
This is a mistake we all make. When we think about what we want, we dream big. And that's good. But, if we don't right-size our dreams, our dreams can throw our lives out of balance.
If you're doing your best, but living your resolution is leaving you exhausted or you find the rest of your life is going out of control, then your resolution is too big for your life right now. That's okay. Make a smaller version. If you don't have time to run 10 miles, run 5, or even 2. If you get shin splints or have knee problems, switch to walking or fartlek (alternating walking and running). Adjust to keep life and dream in balance. For example, I love to go to the beach, and it's very close. But, when I'm ill, two hours at the beach will wipe me out for the day. So I settle for walking in a local park until my health returns.
On the other hand, you might be dreaming too small. How would you know? It's very simple: you're bored. If you're bored with your New Year's resolution, amp it up a notch. Make it bigger. Make it harder. Make it more fun or more exciting.
Share Your Resolution Success!
Some people like to keep their resolutions to themselves. Others like to get the support of friends. One study hinted that more women like a support team, and more men want to go solo. I don't know if that's true or not, and it doesn't matter. All that matters is that you do what is right for you.
If you think that telling others what you are doing will help you be accountable, then go for it. And share your successes. But be careful - only share success with successful people. Lying around and not changing our lives is a popular habit. If you really get out there to make your life better, then you're going against the grain. Sharing your resolution might be like walking back into your neighborhood bar and telling your buddies that you've joined AA. I doubt your old friends will raise a toast to your success!
Please either keep your resolution to yourself or share it with truly supportive, empowering people. Such people know you don't need them: All you need to make your resolution work is your own resolve! And they cheer you on when you go for it, and pick you up when you fall down.
Please come back and share your success. Let's end the myth that New Year's resolutions don't work. New Year's Resolutions work—for those who work on them!