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How to Make New Year's Resolutions that Last

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by Tony Dyer (subscribe)
I’m a 60 something (64 to be exact) Queenslander living the dream with my writing, riding and cooking - I do the housework too but that's not part of my dream.
Published December 10th 2014
May your troubles last as long as your New Year resolutions
new year's, resolutions, smart
Image from Wikimedia Commons


According to what's in the World Wide Web only eight percent of New Year's resolutions will succeed. Most are usually gone by the end of the first week. The main reasons for this failure seems to be because most resolutions are unrealistic, abstract, contradictory and/or contrived.

Unrealistic resolutions fail because people cannot overcome their bad habits by wishing them away. To avoid being unrealistic and setting yourself up for failure each resolution has to be broken down into several smaller and achievable goals. This way you are more likely to stay motivated by winning the small fights on the way to achieving the whole resolution.

The other significant aspect of unrealistic resolutions is tying them to the New Year, or any 'magic' date for that matter. You will have falls on the way to success and when you do accept them as part of the process and pick up where you left off – don't wait for the 'magic' date to come back!

Making resolutions in the abstract must certainly fail. Being abstract means they are theoretical, not applied or practical and so there is no clear understanding of what is to be resolved. Making a resolution where you, 'will lose weight' does not provide a distinct end where you can identify your success.

Be clear in what it is you want to resolve to do. By changing the wording to, 'I want to lose 10 kilograms in the next 12 months' gives the resolution purpose and an end. Remember; the end is where success will be found!

Contradictory resolutions like say, resolving to 'dress better' while you 'save more' must fail unless they are developed within an overall plan. By identifying what you mean by 'dressing better' and what level of savings you need for success will give a clear path to succeeding with both resolutions. Keeping a journal and writing your goals and follow up dates for each one will help you keep track and also identify if you need to change your resolution(s). It's not going to be smooth sailing and you will encounter obstacles along the way. Remember, things change and your ambitions and how you live your life may be very different later in the year than when you made the original resolutions in December/January.

Contriving resolutions without real personal convictions – to appear to be doing something – will fail because seeming is not doing. Making a resolution is not going to work unless you are prepared to do something about it. People who make the same resolutions year after year (could that be you?) where stating the resolution is the extent of the action will achieve the same result year after year. Real life-changing work is tough, gruelling and involves making sacrifices and unpleasant decisions.

That's the bad news. Here's the good news – making meaningful and achievable resolutions is easy as long as you use the SMART approach. SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed and SMART by which resolutions can be developed and their success measured.

Here's how:
A resolution put down as a Specific statement is more likely to result in success. For example, an abstract resolution such as, 'Get fit' could be more specific (and meaningful) as, 'I will join a gym and workout 3 days a week to achieve and maintain a body mass index of 19.'

Resolutions need to be Measurable or you will never know if you attain success. Identifying metrics provides the means of reaching goals along the way to ultimate success.

Attainable resolutions are those you know you can achieve. However, for them to be Realistic you must ensure you have the ability, desire and finances to follow it through to the end. An attainable resolution may not be realistic, for example, do you have the funds to attend a gym three times a week? Conversely, a realistic resolution might not be attainable. Resolutions may be realistic if you believe it can be done and conditions exist to help you accomplish.

Every resolution requires a timeframe for without one a resolution will never end. Timed resolutions create your sense of urgency. You can't recognise success if you don't know when you are there.

All you need now is to work out your SMART resolutions and get going on the 1 January, 2015. To help you out a list of 10 characteristics you might want to improve on over the next year is set out below. Good luck and have a happy and healthy 2015.

Try these:
1. Lose weight (a personal favourite);
2. Stop smoking;
3. No more fast food;
4. Get out more;
5. Save more money;
6. Stop putting off the housework;
7. Clear the clutter from around the house;
8. Learn how to use my smartphone;
9. Watch less TV (so I can ride my motorbike more); and
10. Do 20 articles for Weekend Notes in one month just once.
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