Great news, everyone! We've hit upon a foolproof plan to help you stick to your new year’s resolutions once and for all. Yep, no more grand promises falling in a heap by February. What’s the secret? Glad you asked. The answer is Built-In Fallibility. Also known as Wiggle Room, or plain old Cutting Yourself a Break. Also, a little bit of forward planning instead of just blind hope! We know, right? Genius!
Starting from scratch
Most resolutions come from a place of truly wanting to change a certain aspect of your life for the better. Whether it’s related to health, love or work, the goal of self-improvement is a noble one. Of course, you don’t need to wait until 31 December to set positive changes into motion, but the beginning of a new year seems like a great place to start. It’s a clean slate, all bright, shiny and new! While we love this idea and all it represents, when the inevitable slip-up occurs we often walk straight into the psychological trap of convincing ourselves we’ve failed.
Never say never
The real problem isn’t with the clean slate per se – it is that new year’s resolutions tend to deal in absolutes. We resolve to ‘never again’ or to ‘always’, but soon discover that things aren’t so black and white. Life happens. The ability to make adjustments as needed is key to success. When you deliberately factor in time to be off duty, it negates feelings of deprivation or guilt that prevail when the approach is ‘all or nothing at all’. So give yourself permission to fail, whether it’s once a day or once a month, then get back on your horse! Another component of success is making sure you have the tools to get the job done. You can’t learn to speak a new language without practising it and you can’t run a marathon without training for it – do the groundwork and put solid plans in place.
Rules for ongoing success
• Keep goals and expectations realistic.
• Build in a little wiggle room.
• Do not beat yourself up for ‘slipping’.
• Don’t take on too many resolutions at once; focus on a specific goal.
• Put strategies in place to help achieve your goals. Don’t just rely on hope.
• Reframe your idea of ‘failure’; see slip- ups as learning opportunities instead of the death knell to your resolution.
• Practise, practise, practise. If you want a new habit to stick, you have to work at it every day.
• Share your resolution with others. Telling people about your plans brings a greater sense of accountability. Plus, their encouragement will inspire you!
• Envisage success. Keep a mental picture of yourself achieving your goal and revisit it often.