Troubleshoot your New Year’s strategy with these six proven steps.
1) Be Crystal Clear
Starting with a specific result in mind allows you to easily track progress and keeps the light at the end of the tunnel within reach. Setting a vague resolution such as, “lose weight,” or, “become more organized,” means you can lose sight of what you out to accomplish. It can be disheartening to move your mental goal posts even if you are working really hard and making progress. In order to keep your goal at the forefront of your mind, and your motivational levels at their peak, set a goal that has a specific measurement attached to it.
Lose 15 pounds by June > Lose weight
Save $100 per month > Get better with money
2) Focus on One or Two Goals Max
The Force is strong in you – unless you let it pull you in too many directions. Multitasking might make you feel better about getting several things done at once, but the truth is that your brain works best when it is focused. A Stanford University experiment tested peoples’ ability to withstand temptation by asking them to choose between fruit salad and cake. Researchers presented this choice to two separate groups after asking each group to remember a number and walk down a hallway. One group was given a two-digit, the other group was given a seven-digit number. This simple difference in the degree of concentration required was enough to lower willpower considerably in the second group; nearly twice as many people remembering the seven-digit number chose the chocolate cake. Staying focused on one or two key goals allows your brain to devote more willpower to those pursuits, whereas if you ask it to do much at once, you risk spinning your intellectual tires.
3) Write Makes Right
If your goal only exists in your head it can be easy to convince yourself it never existed or wasn’t really that important. The simple act of writing down your New Year’s Resolution can dramatically increase your chances of reaching the finish line. Gail Matthews of Dominican University led a study that showed conclusively that people who write down their goals were substantially more likely to achieve them than those who did not. Writing down your goal is a tangible reminder of your goals that is hard to easily dismiss.
4) Divide Your Goal Into Bite-Sized Increments on a Timeline
Climbing a mountain requires a Herculean effort, but climbing a hundred steps by noon seems doable right? Breaking up your overall goal into more manageable pieces with more immediate targets is a great way to focus your willpower. The idea is to trick yourself on accomplishing something small right in front you – repeatedly – as opposed to trying to climb a massive mountain in one sprint.
5) Tell Someone – or Whole Group of People!
There is a reason why people with workout partners/groups such as the November Project tend to stick with their programs longer: accountability. Voicing your resolutions to someone else makes them real – they don’t belong to just you anymore. With today’s interconnected world, finding a group of people who share your goal and can support you is easier than ever. As you experience successes, you can share them with the group and encourage others, and if you don’t quite reach your anticipated destination, you can group-source personalized solutions from others who’ve been in your situation.
6) I Get Knocked Down… But I Get Up Again
In order to create positive momentum, you need to remember to celebrate your successes. This means that if you make progress, but fall a bit short of your goal, it’s important to focus on the positive. If you don’t quite reach that workout standard you intended, don’t allow that to dominate your perception of yourself. Keep in mind all of the good things that you accomplished along the way, and how much further ahead you are than if you had never started in the first place.
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