According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (December 13, 2012), 45% of Americans usually begin the year with New Year’s Resolutions, yet only 8% are successful with their goals. That’s…depressing.
I don’t believe the problem lies with the people who make resolutions, nor in the resolutions themselves. I think it’s in the planning and execution. So let’s plan for success and take those goals from paper to reality!
How to Turn Your List of Resolutions into Realities
1. Prioritize it. This is not supposed to be a TO-DO (or NOT TO-DO) list, but rather a list of goals, which take effort, time, and determination to accomplish. So don’t set yourself up for failure and discouragement by listing every single thing you want to do or stop doing. Perhaps choose one goal for each major category of life: Health/Wellness, Family/Relationships, Work/Career, Spirituality/Growth, and Finances. Or if one area needs a lot of work–or is most important to you–focus all your resolutions to fit that need.
2. Reword it. Spend some time wording your goals so that they inspire you and put the focus on what matters. I’ll use a few common resolutions as examples:
- “Lose 10 pounds.” First off, I don’t like this one because it puts the focus on weight and what you look like on the outside. You could lose 10 pounds and be miserable because you starved or deprived yourself. This is usually why the weight comes back because nothing really changed…the goal was merely to attain a specific loss of weight. What if you reworded “Lose 10 pounds” to “Feel amazing in a bathing suit”? See how the focus is now on self-esteem and inner results? Interestingly, being happy and healthy on the inside will show up as the outer results of weight loss you wanted in the first place.
Some other examples of rewording:
- “Quit smoking.” vs. “Choose to put my health before my habit.”
- “Get organized.” vs. “Organize my physical and mental space so I can be productive and balanced.”
3. Plan it. Now that you have a descriptive and inspiring list of goals, you need to plan for success! Wearing a bathing suit with confidence is a great goal, but what does that look like? Are you going to plan out healthy meals for the week so you don’t cave in for junk food when you’re tired and hungry? Will you commit to yoga/spin/dance/boxing classes and lift weights to get the long, lean, sculpted physique you desire? If you don’t brainstorm how you can accomplish your goals, you’re likely to abandon them.
- Think outside the box. So you want to “Be stress-free” (which you might have reworded to “Find my Zen every day” in Step 1!). Taking yoga and getting massages are wonderful ideas. But go further by getting creative. Eating immune-boosting, nutrition-packed foods will keep you healthy and at your best. As a result, you’ll reduce your stress levels as you’ll be more equipped to handle what life throws at you. Also, what makes you happy, content, peaceful, calm? Reading a great book? Taking a stroll in the park? A long bath? If you figure out what those things are and add as many of those activities to your daily life as possible, you’ll experience more “happy” and less “crappy.”
- But be realistic. Can you realistically spend an hour communing with nature or reading a book each day? Then don’t make that declaration. Instead, keep your happy list in mind and sneak them in whenever the opportunity presents itself. Take that best-selling book out when you’re faced with standing in a long line (that would normally stress you out!) or spend 5 minutes sitting outside in a sunny spot on your lunch break. Even doing a little bit of what makes you happy is infinitely better than doing none at all.
4. Theme it. It’s likely that you can find a theme that embodies all your resolutions. Unearthing a theme that connects with you and is rich in meaning is a powerful tool in living the life you imagine. It should resonate with you, make you feel something, propel you forward, support you in your journey toward this year’s goals. Here are some examples of themes and what they can represent:
- The Year of Letting Go – Letting go of things that don’t serve you–insecurities, fear, bad habits, destructive relationships, negativity–so you have room to welcome in all the good things that are possible.
- Just Do It – Saying yes to relationships, job opportunities, experiences, adventures. Taking action, taking charge, taking control. Doing instead of only thinking/hoping/planning.
- Love and Light – Associating yourself with inspiring people, feeding yourself positive messages, looking for the joy in life and reflecting it, opening yourself up to love from yourself and others.
Hold your year’s theme in your mind as you go about your daily life. You’ll find your actions will start to follow your theme, and therefore, contribute to achieving your resolutions.
5. Memorize it. Once your resolutions are focused, powerful, planned, and themed, it’s time to commit your goals to memory. The more they are a part of you, the more likely you’ll see them to fruition.