Three Ways to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

We’re over a month into 2019. How are you doing on those resolutions?

Face it, we all have good intentions. We intend to eat right, exercise more, be more present in our relationships and leave less of a footprint on our planet. Then, our days get busy and we default back to our old ways, only to move through another year without living to any of our commitments or resolutions to be better. Why is that?

Well, it has a lot to do with your brain. You process so many things in the course of a day that your brain defaults to what it knows for most things. That means that until you build a new habit that is stronger than your old habit, your old habits will continue to lead. I like to think of habits as brain ruts (neural pathways). The more you practice something, the deeper the rut. So many of your habits, even if they are unproductive (like eating the wrong things, watching too much television, driving too fast), are deep ruts. The deeper the rut, the stronger the habit.

So, until your resolutions become deeper ruts than your existing habits, you will continue default to your habits. This is why it is so hard to stick to our resolutions and commitments when they are different than what we’re already accustomed to doing.

Here are three ideas you can incorporate into your daily routine to build deeper brain ruts so your resolutions to be better can take root and become your new way of being.

  1. Do something that really matters. Don’t create resolutions or changes that others require. For you to make a change that sticks, your changes really have to matter to you. When you see the value of your change, you are more likely to keep going to make it your new habit. This requires reflection and thought on your part. One of my mottos for my coaching clients is: tune out to tune in. Disconnect from your noisy and busy world to find the quiet and time to reflect on what is most important to you. What is a goal you want to achieve that is really important to you? See it. Focus on it. Be committed to it.
  2. Make it easy and able to be repeated. Repetition is critical to the way we learn best and fastest. When you identify what it is you really want to change or achieve, identify what things you can do every day to that will help you with your goal. It could be setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier to get up and journal before you start your day. It could be buying sparkling water each week at the grocery store to eliminate the presence of sugary sodas in your house. It could be walking with a friend every morning who acts as your accountability partner. Make your changes small, easy and able to be repeated. You brain will quickly learn this new behavior and help you replace the old habit with your new habit.
  3. Check in, manage and measure your progress. Coaches are successful with their clients because they help them clearly define what they want to achieve and hold them accountable by constantly reviewing and measuring their progress. You can’t achieve or change what you don’t measure. To make a resolution or change stick requires you to regularly assess your progress in a way that can be measured. For example, let’s say you decide that walking each morning is your way to get exercise, appreciate your neighborhood and stop yourself from hanging out in the kitchen where you eat things that are unhealthy. How many times a week do you want to commit to walking? How long do you want to walk for? Who will walk with you? Answer these to define your goals then chart your progress. Hang your progress chart on the fridge to keep it in front of you. Then assess how you feel as you make progress. The good feelings that come from doing what is better for you can help you maintain your commitment when your old habits try to take control. The more success you see from your progress, the more your progress will continue.

Many of us mean to make the changes we define for ourselves, but with the pace of life and the distractions of a world that always has our attention, it is difficult to replace old habits with new and better habits.

Take Action
By better understanding what it takes to build a new and better habit, start with something that really matters, make it something that you can easily do over and over and measure your progress. Following these three simple steps can help you improve your ability to make a change that sticks. How can you refine any of your New Year’s resolutions to follow these three steps so your resolutions become a habit and not just a good intention?  

By Jay Forte

Consider reading What Does a Good Day Look Like For You?

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2017: What Worked, What Didn’t Work?

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

The end of another year has arrived. When you take the time to stop and assess 2017, what worked and what didn’t work? What does this tell you about how to proceed in 2018 to have a successful year?

When you take the time to tune in and notice what’s happening in your world, you give yourself information about your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Then, by assessing this information, you are better prepared to do more of what worked and to improve on what didn’t work.

Be aware that it’s habit to label events as good or bad, right or wrong, especially when we assess the past year. This can inhibit our ability to see the real information available to us because we get stuck in the emotions and feelings associated with each event. We lose what the event or moment can teach us.

Learning to focus on what worked and what didn’t work helps to direct your attention to productive information that you can use to better understand your world and make better decisions.

To get started, tune in to the key areas of your life, like work, relationships and finances, and create a sheet to summarize what worked and what didn’t work in each area. Ask yourself questions like:

  • In 2017, how well did I manage my money and spending?
  • In 2017, how successful were my personal relationships?
  • In 2017, how did my career progress?
  • In 2017, how well did I take care of myself / my health?
  • In 2017, what progress did I make in understanding my unique talents and abilities?

Be honest with yourself as you reflect and record your thoughts. What went according to plan, why and how can you do more of it in 2018? What didn’t go according to plan, why and how can you learn from it and improve in 2018?

Summarize what you notice without a right or wrong, good or bad judgment. Just gather information. Remember to look at life’s events as productive and unproductive. This information is like gold – it guides you in what to consider going forward.

So, as 2017 comes to an end, stop, notice and reflect on what worked and didn’t work. From that information, consider how you can do more of what worked and how you can improve or address what didn’t work. You now have a starting point to make a remarkable 2018.

Wishing you a most successful personal and professional new year.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. How will you make time to review 2017 to learn from your successes and challenges?
  2. How will you stop labeling things as good or bad, and shift to what worked and what didn’t work?
  3. How will you let the information you learn about 2017 better prepare you to make wise decisions in 2018?

 

Consider reading What Will You Do To Make Your Year Amazing?

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Why So Serious? My New Year’s Resolution

By Kristin Allaben, Strategic Communications Specialist and Executive Assistant

We talk a lot here about being mindful and aware, and using that insight to make actionable plans to help us achieve our goals. But I find that in all the talk about achieving goals, we can sometimes become a little too serious. Sure, there’s a time to be serious, but, as the saying goes, “life is too short to be serious all the time.”

So in 2018, my New Year’s Resolution is to stop being so serious all the time, and to be more present to appreciate all of life’s moments.

My sisters have repeatedly told me that this has been the new me since I found out I was pregnant with my first son. They’ve told me – in as loving a manner as younger sisters can manage – on more than one occasion, “you’re just so much more fun now!” Who would have thought becoming a mom would make me less… “intense?” Go figure.

But it’s my goal in the New Year to not only stop and appreciate all the little things, but to also intentionally make it a priority to laugh and relax more. You can relax and roll with what happens, or be tense and worry about everything. Both are choices, but only one is productive in helping you achieve what you want.

Life is always going to present challenges. It’s how life works. But that’s also why we create goals; they help us navigate around challenges so we can achieve what matters to us.

So in an effort to make this change, and to encourage you to do the same, I’m closing this post with a meme that makes me laugh every time I see it. And not just a chuckle. A belly laugh. The kind of laugh that makes my face hurt. Regardless of the reaction it inspires in you, may it help you keep perspective as you start your work to create meaningful and achievable New Year’s resolutions.

Feel free to share this meme, and enjoy!

Consider reading Life’s Little Moments

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