Making Your Resolutions Stick

One-Step Protection for Your Resolutions

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So many of us try year after year to make the same change, using basically the same strategy, which boils down to "I’m really going to do it this time!" The bad news is, that probably isn’t going to produce different results than the last time. The good news is that there is one simple additional step you can take to transform your resolution from a temporary conviction to a permanent life improvement.

The usual advice when making resolutions is simply to make sure your goals are reasonable, and then to try to stay focused on them. But unfortunately, this usually doesn't work. Especially when you're talking about something as fundamental as changing the way you eat, it's almost impossible to plan for every obstacle that may possibly arise along the way.

Expect "Speedbumps" Along Resolution Road

The fact is that with any change, there are going to be some unexpected setbacks, and occasionally actual roadblocks. For example:

  • It turns out you hate the diet plan you chose.
  • You miss your former snacks.
  • You realize that you didn’t do enough planning in terms of menus and shopping.
  • The bathroom scale isn’t acting the way you think it should.

Whatever the glitch, the temptation is to say, "well, this isn’t working", and toss the whole idea overboard. It's not that you are aren't capable of coping with these situations, just that it's very easy to get discouraged when trying to work something new into your life.

The simplest thing to do is just go back to your old ways.

The trick is to assume from the beginning that such things will happen, and build into your original resolution what you will do when you reach a setback.

One-Step Protection for Your Resolutions

The simple step you need to take is to add an extra line into your resolution.

It could be something like this:

"I will monitor my progress and actively seek help in developing strategies that will keep me moving in my desired direction." 

The key here is that you are resolving not merely to take a certain action to help you reach your goal but to keep taking action (modifying as necessary) when things become difficult. This is a vital part of the original resolution. When a setback happens, you'll just be able to say "yup, there's one of those setbacks I was expecting," and take measures to cope with it.

If you do not feel ready to make this kind of commitment, then perhaps it would be helpful to do more preparation before making a change. Look carefully at your motivations and goals, gather more information, try to imagine the rough spots, and do some more planning before taking the leap. Then you can change your resolution to reflect what you’ve learned. It is far better to spend more time preparing to make a change than to jump into something new, get overwhelmed, and abandon it just as quickly as you started it.

There is nothing magic about the start of a new year or any other time that seems like you'll be more likely to succeed. What does improve your chances of doing so is planning to see obstacles as triggers to seek out help, whether from books, other people, websites, or professionals. One by one, you can get through the speedbumps and join the 20% who keep their resolutions and reach their goals.

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