By: Allan Thompson | Chief Operating Officer
According to Franklin Covey, around 35% of our New Year’s Resolutions will be broken by the end of January.1 That’s 1 in 3 great intentions falling by the wayside in just the first month. I would feel shocked, but I’m technically already in that 35%! My New Year’s Resolution for this year is to get to sleep earlier than 10:30. I wake up on the early side, so late nights can drag me down for the next day. My reward for a slightly earlier bedtime is improved productivity and much more energy. Still, keeping this new habit requires a new routine and it hasn’t been easy. While there have been some late nights in the mix, I am not giving up. I sympathize with everyone working to build a new, healthy habit into their daily routine. As we approach this end of the month benchmark, let’s refresh our motivation and stay successful.
Small Steps to a Great Goal
If you are struggling to keep your New Year’s Resolution, what obstacles are making things difficult? Was your initial goal too big or ambitious? If that’s the case, think about how to break your big goal up into smaller steps. Make a plan and schedule to reach these smaller steps. This will naturally help you define your goal and make it even more specific. Planning a strategy for step-by-step success has the complementary benefit of allowing you to organize the actions you need to take to achieve your goal and stay on a realistic path.
You will get discouraged if you attempt to go from total couch potato to a marathon runner, but running your first mile, then your first 5K, then your first 10K will give you many more opportunities to mark your progress and celebrate your running habit. If your goal is to organize your entire home, pick one room or set of cabinets at a time. Plan a schedule for moving through the house that is realistic and not overwhelming. Noticing where things pile up in each area will help you improve your organizational behavior. Keep going and you will get through everything!
Track Your Progress and Celebrate Success
Tracking your progress can be as simple as marking things off of a list or marking a big X on the calendar each successful day. There are also many productivity apps designed to keep track of new habits, including wayoflifeapp, Momentum and Habit Bull. Adding technology will provide colorful reminders and reports to your tracking which will help you quickly see your progress. These apps also make tracking your progress feel like a game. If it feels like fun, you are more likely to stick with it.
When you reach a milestone, find a way to reward yourself. Acknowledge your success, even if it is just a few minutes of basking in the warm glow of “I did it!” The best rewards compliment your goal. If your goal is to bring your lunch to work every day, going out for an afternoon coffee at the end of a successful week would be a nice treat. You are working hard to make your New Year’s Resolutions a reality, so celebrate your success!
Shout It Out
Have you been treating your New Year’s Resolution like a secret? It can be easy to hide your goals simply because you won’t have to explain your failure later. What’s the big secret about making healthy changes to your life? Telling your family or a group of friends your goal will automatically boost your motivation to keep your resolution. You will feel more accountable for your new habit when you share your goals. Furthermore, letting family and friends know about your goals invites them onto your team. All of a sudden you have cheerleaders to support you!
Get Back Up Again!
As I mentioned earlier, my New Year’s Resolution has already required a reboot. Life has a way of challenging new habits with sick days, wild weather, new deadlines or responsibilities at work, changes in family life. There will always be a number of factors outside of our control. Flexibility is one key to long-term success; another is forgiveness. Remember the wise words of Stephen R. Covey,
“Don’t get discouraged if you slip up. Everyone has bad days. Just forgive yourself, recommit to your goal and keep moving forward. Stay energized and motivated to achieve the end result.”
If you are already in the 35% who have broken their New Year’s Resolution, don’t give up! Think about the reasons why you made this resolution in the first place. What was the problem you wanted to solve? How will solving this problem improve your life? (This enlightening article2 on applying Design Thinking explains an approach to new habits that is based in the kind of thinking you use as a business leader.)
If you had the motivation to make a New Year’s Resolution, it means you recognize an area of your life that could be improved. If you are having trouble building this new healthy habit, take a moment to evaluate your approach and strategize for success. Stay motivated to keep your New Year’s Resolution and reap the benefits of your new healthy habit!
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