start out 2012, I have some bad news. More than one-third of you will
break your New Year’s resolution before January 2. One-half of you will
break it before the week’s end.
But this doesn’t have to be the
case. Since January 1 is the magical date to “start over” or “wipe the
slate clean,” as opposed to any old day being good enough to make a
self-improvement, I have a few suggestions for those of us who engage
in making resolutions.
1) Make your goals
If you’re completely addicted to
Starbucks, live/work three blocks from one, have a friend who works
there and gives you freebies, have a tower built out of paper cups in
your backyard, or any combination of these, your resolution to abstain
completely from Starbucks is likely unfeasible. Just sayin’.
2) Don’t always focus
on big goals.
Goals don’t always have to
consist of the long-range, big-time stuff. The best accomplishments, in
fact, could be a series of small, easily achievable goals. But if you
only think about the big picture, you could miss this opportunity to
It’s a great idea to break big
goals into smaller ones anyway. That way, you’re not overwhelmed with
the idea of having to write a 95,000-word manuscript. You just work
your way through individual 1,500-word chapters first.
3) Determine your
rewards ahead of time.
What’s the fun of actually
accomplishing your goals if there’s no reward? Sure, there’s that
inherent, philosophical idea that you did what you set out to do. That
might be enough for some of us, but it’s not at all enough for others.
Some crave recognition, so maybe you should indicate how far along you
are in sticking to your resolution by using one of those NaNoWriMo
Some crave a physical reward,
such as absurdly expensive chocolate, e-books, or pedicures (oh, wait .
. . this column isn’t supposed to be about me!). Reward yourself for
staying true to your goals, and do this on a regular schedule. It might
work for some to treat themselves weekly instead of monthly. You know
Don’t wait until January 1, 2013, to jump back on the wagon.
There’s nothing enchanted about
January 1. If you don’t meet your goal, just get back to it as soon as
you can. Treat an occasional lapse as a temporary setback,
not something to throw your hands up, gnash your teeth, and wail about.
If you went ten days with no Starbucks but on day eleven couldn’t fight
the aroma calling to you in your sleep, then just start back on day
One coffee in ten days won’t
send you to the dark abyss. One is better than ten coffees. The same
could be said with getting off your diet, smoking a cigarette,
compulsive shopping, or novel writing.
Be purposeful in
Don’t just sporadically come up
with something you think you’d like to change. Really give it some
thought. According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, who led a study
about failed resolutions, “If you do it on the spur of the moment, it
probably doesn’t mean that much to you and you won’t give it your all.
Failing to achieve your ambitions is often psychologically harmful
because it can rob people of a sense of self control.” Even more so,
when we fail at our resolutions, we can often feel even worse about
ourselves than we did before we made the resolution, and that’s no
place anyone wants to be.
Increase your chance
Now that you know better how to
prepare for your resolutions, I thought I’d add some sure-fire ways to
increase your chance for success.
Breaking goals down into smaller
steps is definitely the number one thing to do. This increases your
chance of success to 35 percent (according to Wiseman’s study). If you
add the reward system, the success rate goes up. If you add telling
your friends, keeping a diary (or blog) of your progress, and focusing
on the benefits of succeeding (not focusing on the downside of not
succeeding), then your success rate goes up to 50 percent!
So keep these things in mind
when making your resolutions!
Here’s wishing everyone a HAPPY