Saturday, 8 February 2014

New Year Resolutions - A Recipe for Success?

New Year's resolutions - Will you stick to them?
I am going out on a limb and saying no, no you will not. Hey, don't get angry at me for going with the statistics on this one. Perhaps you will actually manage to stick to your new year's resolution but if I was a betting person, I would say you are going to crash and burn pretty quickly if you haven't already. At least, that is what the statistics say. Dr Norcross of Stanton University told journalist Ira Flatow in 2012 that only 4% of Americans see through their new year resolutions*. Obviously, his study was based in the USA; however, you can assume this as an approximation for most developed countries. But it is not all doom and gloom because Dr Norcross also said that of those Americans that DO take action, 46% will still be on track at the 6 month mark. I think that is pretty impressive so what can we take away from this? TAKE ACTION!
So Why Don't Most New Year Resolutions Stick?
In my opinion, it is very simply because you have set a date. If you are truly ready to make a life change like lose weight, stop smoking, start writing your novel, or whatever else it may be, do you really think you would wait until a particular day to start doing it? Why wouldn't you start straight away? Because you want an excuse not to - "I'll start on January 1st" is a masochistic way of looking for a reason to not do it at all. If you are serious about a change, start it straight away. Just don't light that cigarette, just don't open that chocolate bar and just start writing - like what I am doing right now. It's not that hard to do something if you DECIDE you will do it and putting a start date on it is just a reason for you to never start at all, just like the other 96%.
Now I am not saying don't change - absolutely not, for change is the only thing that can improve your life and help you achieve your dreams, what I AM saying is that it is time for you to make the DECISION for change and take immediate action, don't wait.
How to Beat the Odds
If you want to beat the odds, here are a few suggestions to make your New Year Resolution continue (and remember, if you have already broken it, who cares? Just make the decision to make the change and DO IT NOW):
Write your desired change and stick it somewhere that will matter. Dieters, stick it on your fridge. Smokers, stick it on your ashtray or the door you go through to get to your smoking area. Writers, do what I have done and set yourself a daily pop-up that asks, "Did you write 1000 words today?" that I have to check off. If I don't check it, it goes red until I do and if I check it dishonestly - who the hell am I trying to fool? I use a free program called NiftyList.
Stop taking action. Yes, that is right. To take action, you must stop taking another action. It is your hand that lights a smoke, it is your hand that grabs the food and it is your brain that tells you something is more important in this very second than writing. It is all YOU, so change what you do and you will inevitably change you.
Make short-term goals to reach your long-term goal. It could be to get through 1 day without eating sugar, or get through 1 day without smoking. Once you achieve that goal, reward yourself and then set the next one. NO! DO NOT reward yourself with another vice. Did I really have to say that? Maybe, maybe not but to be clear, rewarding yourself with a "better version" of your old habit or a different habit is not going to help. You have already associated your bad habit with a unhealthy reward so you need to break that connection entirely. What I mean by that is that a dieter should not reward themselves with any form of food even if it is a good type. A smoker should not reward themselves with another vice such as food or alcohol. A writer should not reward themselves with a television show or any of their other procrastination tools. My suggestion would be to reward yourself with time. Give yourself half an hour to read a good book or go for a walk, as long as it is something that is far removed from your bad habit and will have a positive effect on your mind.
Make a daily to do list and keep your mind occupied with tasks that will take you in the right direction or at least distract you from your vice. Yes, I am going to say the typical thing: take up a hobby. But here's a suggestion, take up a hobby that feeds a childhood dream. Think back to when you used to say, "I am going to be a pop star," (take singing lessons), "I am going to be a fire-fighter" (volunteer), "I am going to be an actor," (join a local theatre group), "I am going to be an astronaut," (join an astronomy group). Or here's an idea, enrol in some form of education that will feed your childhood dream. There are plenty of short courses and even university courses online these days. If you just got a little bit angry and thought, "I don't have time for that!" think about it. Isn't the point to give yourself the reward of time for achieving your goals? If you still say you won't have time, stop reading now because nothing else I can say will change your mind.
Write a blog and make yourself publicly accountable. This isn't for everyone, it is merely a suggestion. Perhaps you could do a weekly vlog (virtual blog uploaded to YouTube) or start a free blog at WordPress. If you do, let me know and I will happily follow you.
Just do it! That's really what it comes down to. No-one can do it for you. Seek help and assistance from friends, family, and professionals if you are comfortable with that. If you don't seek assistance, then you have to remember that you are accountable only to yourself. Don't lie to yourself. Admit when you take a step back - it will happen, but the main thing is that you keep pushing forward.
You only fail when you stop trying. Did you notice that I have avoided the word "fail" throughout this article. I think it is a word saved for those that choose to not try. If you try anything your entire life but never achieve your ultimate goal, you are not a failure because you never stopped trying. Wins are guaranteed when you try, even if they are small.
By Porle Joen

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New Year Resolutions - A Recipe for Success?

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