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Sunday 22 September 2019
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Sticking to New Year’s resolutions

CALL ME old-fashioned, but I believe in New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea of facing the future with an improvement plan. Of course, making resolutions is the easy part; sticking to them is the hard part.

Airy-fairy advice about making New Year’s resolutions abound on the internet, but most tips are not terribly helpful when it comes to achieving any real goals. Still, I found an interesting and helpful article by Rosie Guagliardo offering solid advice in Forbes, a financial magazine.

Pointing out numerous studies, the article says only nine per cent of people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions. The article offers good advice for increasing the odds by advising an approach in crafting resolutions that focus on tangible ways to reach your goals.

For instance, the article says don’t make a goal such as “be happier in the New Year.” Instead, think of what makes you happy – like buying flowers every week – and make that a goal. Don’t make losing weight a goal, Guagliardo advises. Make your goal something like take a walk every day or go to the gym three times a week. In other words, concentrate on what is doable rather than some lofty, abstract goal.

I don’t know about you, but the biggest obstacle in achieving my New Year’s resolutions is my penchant for tossing them aside once I feel that I have failed. I often make goals, check on them three months into the year, tell myself, “Oh no, I failed at that goal,” and then cast it aside.

Guagliardo says be prepared to experience some failure and change your attitude about it. She says, “Think of failure as a sign that you’re trying to do something new… Progress, setbacks and recovery are all steps toward feeling happier and experiencing success.”

And if you never recover from that failure or you never succeed in making that resolution work, she says maybe it was never a real desire that you actually wanted.

Guagliardo’s advice about New Year’s resolutions is totally different from what most of us envision as the purpose of a resolution. She says they should never be things we feel we have to do. Instead, they should be things we want to do. “Consider which value in your life it honors,” she says.

This might come as a surprise, but resolutions are something we need to keep track of every day. That makes sense if they are meant to create useful changes in our lives. The article suggests daily steps and visualising the end result. Her philosophy is that our resolutions should inspire us every day, and if they don’t, then consider steps to make those goals more fun.

Once resolutions have been set with measurable goals, then Guagliardo advises that you find a support system. She calls it “connecting with an accountability partner” and says that could be a friend, coach or colleague committed to keeping you on track.

What I found most interesting about her article is something that was never stated, but clearly evident: successful resolutions should have a theme that focuses your energy. I think having one theme makes resolutions more manageable because it is possible to create steps in achieving one, major overall goal. A theme could be health or kindness. Choose one theme and make your resolutions steps that relate to one theme.

The article asks that all goals target happiness because your goals should not be a drudgery. They should be a fun challenge that focus on what you value. You achieve those goals by asking yourself many questions that help to shape your goal. Those questions all need to answer the question of “how.”

Most articles I have read about achieving New Year’s resolutions pointed out the importance of not setting an overwhelming number of goals. For some reason, I always believed there should be ten goals. That is simply unmanageable. Some sites suggest three goals.

This year, I am trying to narrow mine down to one achievable goal – a theme – and focus on the steps to achieving that single goal. That seems easier to recall on a daily basis.

As we close each year, we look forward to what we can achieve in the new year. New Year’s resolutions help us to aspire towards a future goal. This is the time when we can really take stock of what we truly value.

So, Happy New Year, dear readers. May the upcoming year bring you a new beginning filled with resolutions that only you can fulfil.

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