Making and Breaking Those New Year's Resolutions

by Dr. Kevin Polk


Have you set your resolutions for the new year? Going to stop smoking? Going to lose weight? Maybe get in shape? No matter what your resolution is, how you achieve it will depend on how determined you are to reach the goal.

So how determined are you? Well, you are determined enough to make the resolution. At least you know you need to change something. Lots of people don't.

The fact that you set a resolution means that you are at least contemplating reaching a goal. Contemplating is good.

You have to do that before you get anything done. Of course just thinking and thinking does not get much done. You need to go past thinking and into planning. If you don't, chances are you will break your resolution. It will probably slip out of your thoughts completely. At least until next December rolls around.

So how does one go about planning to accomplish a resolution? The simplest answer is to think about the first step you will need to take. If you're going to lose weight, maybe you need to see your doctor. If you are going to write that novel, maybe you need to set aside time to write.

You really need to decide what that first step toward your resolution will be. Then plan how you are going to accomplish that first step. You might even be able to plan steps two, three and four.

Come January you will need to transform your plan into action. This can be a lot trickier than you realize because step one in your plan will require that you spend time. Sounds simple, but it isn't. You need to face the fact that you made the resolution because you have not had enough motivation to spend time on it so far. That motivation is not going to come out of thin air; it has to come from within you. So what is it about this resolution that is going to motivate you to do it? The bottom line is that it needs to make you feel good. So imagine how good you will feel when you accomplish the resolution. Then take that good feeling and firmly attach it to step one. Don't let that good feeling go. It's the basis of your motivation to accomplish each step to your resolution.

Great! You did all the steps and accomplished your resolution. Have you ever reached a goal and then lost ground? Lots of people do this with losing weight. They just can't seem to keep the weight off. One reason for this is that once you achieve a goal it's easy to lose your motivation. You don't have that goal in front of you anymore. What you need is a maintenance plan. Just like your action plan to get to the goal, you have to stay motivated. So spend some time imagining how good it will feel to maintain your goal. Think of your improved self-esteem. Think of the fact that next December you can say that you kept and maintained your resolution!

As you can see, there can be quite a bit of mental work that goes into keeping a New Year's resolution. A lot less work goes into breaking one. You already knew that. The difference is that now you will know exactly what mental work you are avoiding when you break the resolution.

There is one resolution that millions of people have managed to keep with relatively little effort, however. They have resolved not to make any more New Year's resolutions. That resolution only requires a minimum of contemplating, planning, acting and maintaining. It may be just the resolution you were looking for!


Dr. Polk helps people deal with life. Get his free course in Creative Problem Solving. Sign up with any email message to timedoctor @GetResponse.com. Copyright Dr. Polk. All Rights Reserved

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