Resolutions: Say Goodbye to the Old You
I think I can, I think I can ...
Each new year there are many suggestions about resolutions. Suddenly, the topic for discussions are all about resolutions to change yourself and/or your life. Magazines, newspapers, and television programs suggest ways to lose weight, get organized, stop smoking, get your finances in order, or how to find your perfect mate.
Many, if not most, resolutions are abandoned within the first four to six weeks, and some in just a few days. Making a resolution is the easy part, but succeeding in that venture is another story all together. People make resolutions because they've reached a point in their lives where something has caught their attention or interest. They might be looking to accomplish something, turn over a new leaf, or improve their own feeling about themselves.
Resolutions fail, mostly, for two reasons. People want to do something once and have it over with, completed, finished. But, life-changing resolutions are going to be ongoing, without end. Sometimes, resolutions are made on a whim, dare, or demand of another person. Changing or ending something in ones life at the prompting of a friend, relative or spouse will, usually, fail.
People don't change something about their life or themselves just because another person desires them to change. In fact, proposing that someone change themselves will, likely, create feelings of anger, suspicion, or distrust. For instance, if a husband says his wife should lose weight, it will sound more like, you're fat and undesirable to me. Usually, suggestions are made with good intentions, and meant to be caring about the other person. But, voicing changes that you would like to see someone else do will just not work.
A resolution to change, alter, or begin something is a personal choice, and needs to be made by the individual. It doesn't matter if anyone 'thinks' the person needs to do something. The only one that can recognize change is needed is the resolution maker. Individuals must make a commitment and accept the responsibility to make it happen, or it will be a futile attempt.
Resolutions can be powerful tools for making life changes, if they are constructively planned and well thought out. The ones that are successful have commonalities to the core of the issue. They must be manageable, specific, and offer measurable outcomes. Effective resolutions must have rewards, no matter how small of insignificant.
Often times, people make a resolution as a wish to 'fix' something. However, before something can be fixed, there must be reasons for fixing. Before making resolution endeavors, ask yourself (five times) 'why' you want to change something, and 'how' you plan to get the results.
Let's say you want to stop smoking. The discussion with yourself might sound something like: I want to stop smoking. Why? So I will be healthier. Why? So my hair doesn't stink anymore. Why? So I can be more active without getting winded. Why? Because I want to live longer. Why? Because I like my life and myself.
The core issue is that the person cares about what they are doing to themselves, and what they really want is to live.
Make Resolutions Manageable
Cut your goals into small steps. Don't kid yourself into thinking giving up cigarettes for an hour or two will be success. Research ways to get motivated. Gather the tools you will need to keep you focused and help with your success. Find someone to be your support and shoulder to lean on. Get out a pen and paper and write down the steps you'll take and make a plan.
Make Your Goals Specific
Define exactly what you will do today to take the first step towards your goal. What about tomorrow, or next week? What steps will you need to keep track of your success, and chart yourself. Vague goals usually fail, so try to be as specific as possible.
Goals Should Be Measurable
Your plan must be measurable. Plan validation needs to be measurable with a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. For instance, this week I will smoke just three cigarettes each day. This information will determine if you're staying motivated, or if you need more support.
The problem with motivation is that it's easy to find, but very hard to keep. People that are successful with their resolutions, are the ones that reach out for help and support when their motivation begins to fade. However, although support is a wonderful tool, you are your main support person! You must continue to cheer yourself on and delight in your success.