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How Do I Keep My New Year's Resolutions?
You’ve been through this before.
Every year it’s the same thing.
When December 31st comes, we all get a little loopy, decide to break our personal vicious circle of self-destruction, and make a resolution for the new year. And why not? This exercise is actually psychologically healthy. You’ve seen a problem and acknowledged it. That’s the first step in any problem resolution: recognizing that a problem actually exists.
Were it so easy to just do that and it would be over. Problems… REAL problems require action steps in order to get rid of them. Sometimes we don’t have the answer – and that’s okay. Part of your steps to resolving the problem is “get some good advice.” I underline the word “good” because the only thing worse than “no advice” is “bad advice”.
Let’s look at this example.
You discover that you are having stomach pains. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t worry about something like this, but it’s been happening on and off for a few months and you’re getting this “burning feeling” after you eat spicy foods. The obvious piece of good advice is “go see a doctor – you may have an ulcer.” Another acceptable answer would be to take an OTC drug like Prilosec or Pepcid AC, think about changing your eating habits for the better, and if it continues, see a doctor.
Bad advice is when you listen to your bar buddy (he’s the same guy who’s the expert parent that advocates electric toys during bath time) who tells you to eat as many jalapeno peppers as you can in order to scare away the “stomach demons” in your gut. This is under the rationale that you are larger than your pain and only a wussy goes to a doctor.
Then you die.
Remember the words of Obi wan Kenobi, “Who’s the bigger fool: the fool or the fool who follows him?”
So get good advice before you begin any resolution.
The biggest obstacle that we all face when we make these resolutions is commitment. We always think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be thinner?” or “Wouldn’t it be nice to not smoke anymore?” And every year we make these half ass resolutions that are thrown by the wayside by January 10th of the new year.
Do you want to know what works with essentially anything? Let me tell you.
The Secret to Keeping ANY Resolution
Did you ever wonder why Weight Watchers™ is able to stay in business? Seriously? They change their diet plans every couple of years to embrace the new method du jour. Low fat, some years, low carb, all of the rest.
I don’t believe they have a set of exercise activities to do between meetings – which go to support my next point. It’s never the actual diet or exercise that helps people lose weight. It’s something more subtle than that.
I did Weight Watchers™ with my wife early in my marriage. It was bound to happen. I work doing web stuff and weight gain is an occupational hazard. My wife wanted to lose some pounds as well; so we both joined. I’ve forgotten the actual dues that Weight Watchers™ charges, but their services are quite minimal. You are given the diet rules. You are required to get weighed weekly. And, most importantly, you are subjected to hear stories from your fellow members about what they did to keep the pounds off. In essence, you lose an hour of your life listening to other people’s discovering the evils of butter and deep fried snacks.
In all of that, buried deep within their ritual, is the secret.
Here’s a hint: It wasn’t to pay another person to read a scale and to do basic arithmetic.
The secret to keeping any resolution lies in “accountability”. It is one thing to make a commitment to yourself; it’s quite another thing to state that commitment to a group of others to get you to keep your word. Weight Watchers™ works because people come in and get weighed. That number on the scale is your pledge to yourself to lose the weight. It is up to the Weight Watchers'™ member to lose the weight and keep diligent through their diet and whatever exercise program they use. The hour long meeting is the support group to keep you going on the right track. When you get on that right track, you want to talk about it. The other people there (you, for where others are talking) are there for moral support. When you declare your success, there is a need to have it validated.
What is your New Year's resolution?
How to Use Accountability to Reach Your Goals
When we think of resolutions made during a New Year’s Eve party, we think of making goals to either do something or to eliminate a bad habit from our lives.
The use of accountability for success goes to the same roots of humiliation for failure. Tell everyone that you are going to do something. When it isn’t done, you stand the humiliation of everyone knowing you failed. So, it’s best to stick to your guns and keep going with your commitment.
In addition to this, I recommend the use of a buddy. “Buddy” as in the “Buddy System”. While this won’t work for everything, it will work for things like a commitment towards exercise. If you have a gym buddy who you will work out with on a regular training routine, it will only be through a mutual consent to skip out on exercise sessions. If you combine this with the public humiliation option, you won’t dare miss a session.
The point is that in order to get any of these initiatives done, you have to make them part of a daily habit through your own carrot and stick discipline. Succeed – and you will have proved not only to yourself that you could do the task but have shown your friends that you could do it, too. Failure – by not following through with your plan either means you had a bad plan or you quit. In doing that, you will get the scorn you so richly deserve.
There is much power in not only the written word, but also the spoken word. When you make your intent known to the universe, the universe will help you along. When you make your commitment to your friends, if they are your friends, they will help you in accomplishing it.
Resolutions in Amazon
When we recognize all obstacles as problems, we need to attack them like problems.
I’m not one of these management disciples who say, “There are no problems – only opportunities.” That’s just Orwellian NEWSPEAK. It’s a freaking problem and should be treated as such.
So what do we do with problems?
- We recognize its existence.
- We identify its root cause (if any) and research how to best resolve the problem. If there is no research available, we either seek a specialist or invent a new way to resolve the problem.
- We make a plan.
- We follow the plan.
- If the plan works and we reach our goal, we’ve succeeded. If the plan does not work and we’ve followed the plan, make a new plan.
At no point in any of those steps was quitting an actual option. If you want to quit smoking, tell people that you’ve stopped and tell them you are not supposed to be smoking. If you want to lose weight, tell people you’re on a diet and are set to lose a specific amount. If you are going to do something new, tell people of your plans and see if someone can help you realize them.
A resolution that’s a secret is not a resolution. It lacks the commitment of success and failure – and all of these require your own accountability to own your task and make sure it gets done.