How to Set a New Year’s Resolution That You Will Keep and Which Will Add Value to Your Life
If you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution it might as well be something you will take pride in having achieved. Here’s how to choose something worthwhile. 23-01
I really like the word ‘resolution’. It encompasses both determination and achieving a result.
Scientific studies of achievement tell us that there are 3 aspects to achieving desired results:
A definition of the result, which, when achieved, will both inspire and add personal meaning to your life. It should be something that when you imagine the result your pulse starts to race.
You should have a means by which your progress can be measured. I refer to these as milestones. More about them in a minute.
A strategy by which the goal will be achieved. I am going to discuss strategy in future articles.
Achievements that will change your life
You know what it feels like when your blood’s up and you feel the tingle of excitement - well that’s how you should feel when you think about achieving your resolution. What you want to achieve needs to be gift-wrapped in emotion so it ignites you to take action. Then you’ll really enjoy the journey.
Let me explain. Say you want to lose weight. Telling yourself you want to lose weight won’t cut the ice (inexact, no visible benefit). Even saying I will lose 20 pounds won’t excite you (boring numbers, no benefit). But setting out to look as slim as your favorite movie star and thereby attracting a host of new admirers might just do it for you.
Building a real personal benefit into your result gives the objective an injection of excitement. So, looking slim and sexy and being surrounded by admirers ticks the boxes.
Is the resolution right for you?
A few years ago a friend set himself the goal of getting his golf handicap down to single figures. This was not a good goal for him because he lacked sporting ability, he didn’t have the time to practice and he despised the golf pro at his club.
Nevertheless, he played whenever he could and entered competitions. As the year progressed he became more and more frustrated with his lack of progress. He blamed his equipment and bought expensive new clubs; to no avail. He bought endless instruction videos and books. But nothing he did could compensate for the lack of instruction and practice. In the end, he gave up the game completely.
The problem was that his golf ambitions were just fantasies. They were not suited to his capability and available time.
When you set yourself goals you need to be conscious of who you are, who you want to become, and your available resources.
How will you look and feel when you’ve achieved your ambition?
A personal appearance element to your objective will give a real “feel-good” factor that will pull you toward making your ambition your reality.
Let your hair down, conjure up optimistic feelings, and build an image in your mind of the new you who has achieved your desired result. How do you look? How do you sound? How does it feel to be this person? Can you feel the extra confidence? Can you feel the energy that you now exude? This is what you’re aiming for! This is the person you are becoming as you pursue your ambition.
Connecting the result, the benefit, and the way you feel gives power to your resolve and meaning to what you want to achieve.
I will be writing to you again on Friday - just in time for you to have decided on your resolution - with some techniques that will help you to keep pursuing your resolution until you achieve your result.
How to keep track of your progress
I mentioned “milestones” at the start of this article - I believe milestones are essential for maintaining motivation on the way to achieving your result.
Milestones are concrete numbers, dates, amounts of income, or other realistic markers that you can use to measure your progress. All markers should have a timeframe for their achievement. E.g. “I will lose 15 pounds by the 31st of March.”
Milestones serve as both a measure of your progress and can also act as “hurry-up” signals when you fall behind your schedule.
How about you produce a spreadsheet for your resolution that clearly defines your desired outcome and includes your milestones? Then you can review your progress every week. I hold my progress meetings first thing every Monday morning.
Here’s a screenshot of my 2023 resolutions milestone spreadsheet so you know I walk my talk:
Make your resolution a bit of a stretch
Do you get excited when you’re loafing in an armchair? No, you get excited when you’re doing something that challenges you. It’s the feeling that you’re chasing after something worthwhile that gets your juices flowing.
Science tells us that stress restricts our blood flow and tightens our muscles which inhibits our movements. When we view something as challenging it releases blood flow which both energizes and relaxes us.
So your resolution needs to be a bit of a stretch, a challenge. But it doesn’t want to be such a daunting challenge that it stresses you and makes it easy to find excuses for giving up. Attainable with a bit of effort is what you’re after.
My resolution is going to take a whole year to achieve. I’ve set monthly milestones that will challenge me but also give me feedback and the occasional kick if I slack off. Each milestone is achievable, but each one will require constant effort to make it happen.
I have also added a small reward for myself at the end of each month to keep me feeling positive about what I’m doing.
Checklist for forming a resolution that will add value to your life
What achievement would radically change your life?
What personal benefits would you derive from this achievement?
Does the thought of achieving this excite me?
Is it a bit of a stretch, yet attainable with your available resources?
Is this the right resolution for who you are and what you want to become?
How will you look and feel when you have achieved this ambition?
What milestones can you set to measure your progress?
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