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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM DECEMBER 2009
Many will want to forget the last as we approach the New Year. Most will be thinking about what they want to do next year, and a select few will resolve the change. Mark Twain has written of New Year’s Resolutions; “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and cut our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.”
So, my first New Year’s Resolution is NOT to make any New Years’ Resolutions. Let’s be realistic about this. How many resolutions have you made over your lifetime? How many of those resolutions made it to February? Research shows that 80% of resolutions made will fail before January 31st. By January 15th, 90% will die if they are weight or fitness-related. I know I have made resolutions to lose weight before, so I gained 20 pounds last year. But why?
Several reasons are making New Years’ Resolutions is all wrong. The first reason is timing. The date is a pre-selected date that you did not choose. So maybe you aren’t ready to start just then. Perhaps you haven’t done the proper mental setup before the date. Often, the date comes, and you say, “Well, everyone else is making some resolutions; maybe I should too.” And, of course, we are coming out of the Happy Holiday season, which sends our stress levels through the roof. So there is a lot of stuff going on at this time of year. And let’s not forget that a year is a daunting amount of time.
Second, we typically have no game plan going into these. Saying that I want to lose weight but not knowing how to make it happen equals no success. Taking on an even bigger resolution like a significant change to your business, but not doing the proper research, also makes it less likely to happen.
The third would be making unrealistic resolutions. My resolution to find a cure to world hunger, although admirable, is not something I can do in a year. Perhaps most importantly, each resolution we fail at makes it so much more likely that we will not achieve the others. Mentally it places a giant roadblock in our brain, which subconsciously tricks us into believing we won’t get it done this time either.
Mentally we must dig deep into the “Why” – why resolve the first place? Take me losing weight. Last year I went into that resolution with no real motivation other than I wanted to fit into my old pants. But I am telling you that reason wasn’t a strong enough “Why” to make me go through all the work needed for that resolution to work. I am a firm believer in visualization. I have to see the answer come true in my mind first. So this year, I am going to lose weight because I want to fit into my old pants; I went to a doctor, and he told me I have high cholesterol, and losing weight can help bring that down. I also want to run a half marathon in June of 2010, and at 250 lbs, I don’t have a chance of making that happen. So my reasons are more specific, more profound, and more evident this year.
Maybe the biggest problem is that we do not train ourselves to win. Instead, we expect to jump out of bed and run that marathon. Two years ago, one of the DJs I work with showed me his goals. And let’s face it, New Years’ Resolutions are just that, goals. Then he showed me how he was going to make them happen.
His approach is to scrap every big goal you have for a while. Next, you need to start small, very small. Take tomorrow, for instance. What do you have for a goal tomorrow? Is it realistic? Do you have the proper motivation to make it happen? Once you achieve tomorrow’s goal, reward yourself. Rewards can be as easy as checking a box on a sheet of paper with tomorrow’s goal. The bigger the goal, the better the reward should be. After you have done that for a week, I want you to stretch yourself to 3-5 goals a day. You may be thinking to yourself that this is ridiculously stupid to start small. But what we are doing is exercising your goal muscle. Most of us never practice achieving goals, so the 3-5 goals a day should last for a month. It is said that it takes 28 days to form a habit. And you will need this habit if you want bigger dreams to become a reality.
As we get to the next phase of becoming a champion goal achiever, we have to realize that we need help. This is where we will start to get friends and family involved. Accountability and positive support are paramount if you really want to make something happen. This can be as simple as telling people about your goals or asking for their help to make them happen. Tell enough people, and you may be shocked at all the support you will receive! You also may be surprised at how this tends to increase your motivation – after all, who wants to face 20 people you just told you were going to do something, and you didn’t?
By the time three months roll around, you should start to make weekly goals. And then, after six months, begin with monthly goals. Then, finally, leap into yearly goals or New Year’s Resolutions after a full year of making goals happen. By this time, you will be well on the road to success.
If you want to win big, you need to start small. Keep your goals realistic; get all the support you can gather. Don’t start with these until the time is right. Make sure that whatever your motivation is for making this happen is crystal clear. And finally, reward yourself every time you accomplish a goal. Don’t sell yourself short. If you can’t make a deadline, reschedule the goal and try again. An old Samurai says, “knocked down seven times, get back up 8” Good luck and resolve to make 2010 a great year!
Dean Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.