New Year’s Resolutions: Follow Through

We’re now four days into the New Year. If you’re like me, you have finished your neat little list of resolutions, and now you are waiting for your new life to begin.

It doesn’t work like that, actually. Perhaps that is why most people’s resolutions last three months, tops. You can’t simply wish changes in your behavior into existence. You have to plan, and you also have to pace yourself. If you have made six New Year’s resolutions, you have to find the time and energy to work on developing those six resolutions. You may not have time to work on all six at once, and it’s ok to stagger your resolutions to help you develop long-lasting habits.

Plan

I finished my list of resolutions just in time to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. However, I still haven’t defined specific next actions for each resolution. And that means I still haven’t made progress on any of the resolutions I set. How many years have I been setting resolutions? Plenty. So why haven’t I planned better?

Mike Vardy, over at lifehack.org, has an interesting answer: he says we’re too tired in January. He advises everyone to wait until February to implement new resolutions. “Rather than take on a series of resolutions now, keep them in mind and plan properly for them during the month of January. Make this a month of setting yourself up rather than sprinting in to the new year with full intentions and not enough energy to see them through over the long haul.”

This is interesting advice. While I’ve spent time brainstorming what I would like to change about myself in 2012, the holiday season gave me little time to actually make a plan to accomplish these goals. In an effort to have a higher success rate this year, I’m going to try to make a solid plan for implementing my resolutions this month, then start again in February. Not only will it be great to actually develop habits out of my resolutions, but I will feel that sense of personal accomplishment that will encourage me to continue to make progress in my own life.

Take Action

Resolutions have next action steps, just like any task on your to-do list. Divide your goals into smaller steps, and pinpoint your next action for each resolution. Also, be specific about the end result you expect. Without clear expectations for yourself, you will never know for sure if you’ve reached your goal.

After you’ve defined your next action, dive in. Do it. That is another factor in my own inability to maintain New Year’s resolutions—I fail to take the first step. This principle is applicable in many of life’s situations. To increase productivity and success, you have to move forward with the actions you’ve defined and set out for yourself.

Reward Yourself

I believe in rewarding myself when I have been dedicated and focused. Sometimes this reward is a dinner out with my husband, sometimes it is just personal praise. I know that if I am positive, I will be more likely to continue working hard. As soon as I get down on myself, I get discouraged and give up. If I haven’t done a good job staying focused on my goals, then I reexamine my plan and make adjustments that will help me improve and be successful.

How do you implement your New Year’s resolutions?

Image by Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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