As you flip the calendar onto a fresh new year, you may feel ready to drop old patterns and create new habits. It’s a new opportunity to grow, learn and evolve. An opportunity many of us embrace with energy and excitement.
So why is it so common, by the end of February, to have lost focus, fallen off track and find yourself unable to follow through with your resolutions?
Having resolutions isn’t the problem. Sticking to them is.
Here are five common resolution-setting mistakes that might indicate why you find it hard to stick to them:
1. You don’t create a vision
Most of us jump right into goal setting without having the big picture perspective. But goals are empty without a vision for why you want to change.
Your vision is about your best life — your fullest life, your deepest dreams and desires.
Think about what you want to be, do and have in your life. Open up the possibility thinking. Your vision provides the intrinsic motivation for making any change in your life.
If you don’t have this vision, you won’t have the purpose, direction and focus, you’ll be easily tempted and less inspired to keep going.
2. You don’t write them down
Our resolutions start as thoughts, ideas and plans in our minds. For many of us, that’s where they stay — in our heads. You don’t say them out loud, you don’t tell anyone and you don’t write them down.
This is a big mistake.
When you keep things inside, they aren’t real. It is very different to write versus think. Writing your resolutions down evokes a visceral response. You become emotionally connected to them, believe in them and are more likely to manifest them into reality.
Make time to write down your vision and then your resolutions.
3. You jump right into action
If you skip first two steps — visioning and writing things down — and jump directly into making a change, chances are you won’t be as successful.
For example, if you decide to quit smoking and go cold turkey on Jan. 1, it’ll be much harder than if you took time to prepare for this change.
In their book Changing for Good, Prochaska, Norcross and Diclemente found that people who try to accomplish changes they are not ready for set themselves up for failure.
When it comes to your resolutions, you need time to think about it, truly believe it is the best thing for you, make preparations, decide on a plan and only then will you be ready to take action.
4. You don’t develop an action plan
Again, because you are likely so keen to get started, you might not take time to develop an action plan.
This is a mistake because without breaking down your vision and resolutions into doable, manageable, timely, practical, meaningful steps, you’ll likely get overwhelmed and frustrated and not make progress.
Write down specific goals you have along with the weekly steps you’ll take to accomplish them. Put timeframes and measures for each one so you’ll know when you’ve reached completion. I recommend focusing on between one to three main resolutions or goals for the year.
5. You don’t get support or accountability
Research indicates that two top success factors for making lifestyle and behavioural changes are connection and support. If you try to go it alone, don’t share the experience, don’t have external accountabilities and don’t get support, you will likely not be as successful.
You are more likely to uphold your commitments to yourself when you share them with someone else. This maybe with your partner, spouse, friend, co-worker, or maybe you hire a coach or other professional to support you.
Surround yourself with the supportive, encouraging people who can help you reach your goals and stick to your resolutions.
Don’t fall into the trap of these common resolution-setting mistakes anymore. Use these tips to make and stick to your resolutions in 2017.
If you need some extra support to develop and stick to your resolutions, I’ve put together a special coaching package that provides guidance, accountability and support. Don’t end up in March feeling deflated and out of control. Email me at email@example.com for details.
This post first appeared here in the Halifax Citizen on January 3, 2017.