How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Happen

13 January 2016

Every year, around this time, I think, “Next year I’m going to work on being a better wife, I’m going to call my parents more often, I’m going to get in shape, I’m going to start writing that book, and…” the list goes on. In my experience, thinking of New Year’s resolutions hasn’t been that hard; it’s the follow through that gives me grief.

I’m not alone. Author of “Smart Change,” Art Markham says most people fail their New Year’s resolutions; in fact, his research revealed many people have stopped making New Year’s resolutions altogether. Yikes! Is there no hope for me?

According to Markham, my New Year’s resolutions need not become epic failures. Here are a few of Markham’s suggestions for success in 2016:

* Keep resolutions positive. A negative goal is something you want to stop; a positive goal is something you want to do. Which sounds more fun? One year, I thought, “I need to stop hanging out with this particular group of friends. They are a bad influence on me.” I think that lasted a week. Epic failure. However, when I decided to start meeting new people, and make new friends, I had great success. These new relationships eventually led me back to school to complete a Master’s degree. Epic success!

* Change your environment. One year, I tried to give up chocolate without removing all chocolate from my house. Those Snicker’s bars called to me at all hours, until I finally gave in (besides, giving up chocolate isn’t positive, and I can’t find a positive alternative. If you think of something that doesn’t involve substituting chocolate for carrots, drop me an email!). I get Markham’s suggestion, however. In the above example of changing my friendship circle, I had to get away from the environment that was bringing me down, and start looking for other places to meet people. Church, networking events, and eventually school. The more successful the people I met, the more I wanted to be successful. I wanted to talk like them and write like them.

* Make a realistic plan. When I say my new relationships eventually led me back to school, “eventually” is the key word here. When I finally realized I was smart enough to go to college, I had to figure out how to do it while working and raising a family. I dappled in classes here and there for a couple years and then I made an appointment with a counselor. I was shocked to discover I could choose a major, and a list was already in place for me to work with! The counselor helped me make a plan that allowed me to get homework completed and take care of other responsibilities.

My advice is to go easy on yourself. Behavior change is hard, so pick one thing you want to add to your life, and prepare to make it happen before you start. My New Year’s resolution is to get all my dad’s WWII stories on tape. I’m working on a plan, filling in my calendar, and will start recordings in late January.

Thanks for listening

Joanna