Maintain resolve, declare a win

Making New Year’s resolutions is one thing, keeping them can be quite another. Combine realism with clever goal setting and we can continue the course. Result!

To resolve means ‘to fix by resolution or formal declaration’. So, when we make a resolution we come to a firm decision to do something and we make it public. Seeing out the old year and bringing in the new invites both reflection and looking forward. The universality of the New Year defines it as an ideal occasion for fresh starts – an inherent sense of absolution and hope run in convenient tandem; we can excuse the past with impunity and resolve to make change for the better. In a nutshell: seize the moment.

New Year’s resolution success relies upon both serious intent (we have to want to do it) and achievability (it has to be possible). Superficial wish lists rarely come to fruition, very long lists generally prove too tall an order for most mortals and solving the international debt crisis is, in reality, too much to expect of any one person. Conversely, by setting realistic objectives and mapping progress through dynamic goal setting, success becomes attainable.

A realistic goal is one which you are both willing and able to work towards. In terms of motivation, there’s much to gain from aiming high but not too high. Establish your ultimate objective, write it down, and then break it up into a series of achievable steps. Once we determine that something is very important to us, we almost without fail find ways of developing the attitudes, traits, skills and so on to attain it. Self esteem grows as we progress towards attainment.

Be specific

Make each goal specific, rather than general, and you are more likely to accomplish it. For example: ‘go for a half-hour swim every Tuesday and Thursday’ versus, ‘take more exercise’.

Set each step or goal in a precise timeframe. For example, if drinking wine heavily and nightly, decide to have just one glass of wine with dinner, four evenings a week for one month. This helps to keep progress on track, it is a good motivator and achievement is a clear yes or no. Fill the gap with other non-alcoholic gaps, it’s often just a thirst that makes us reach for the bottle.

Measurable goals enable us to monitor accurately how well we’re progressing so we maintain momentum and remain encouraged to succeed. Measures include timeframes alongside other appropriate concrete criteria, such as number of squares of chocolate, kilometres cycled or dropping a clothes size, not taking work home, and so on.

Reward yourself

Reward achievements along the way and don’t overdo the self retribution when there’s slippage – to err is human. Tell the world what you’re aiming for because the more people who know, the less likely you are to sneak a cream bun/cigarette/double G&T, and the more support you can call on.

Written by Dr. Noel Duncan