New Years Day has come and gone, and along with it so have many of our resolutions for the New Year. Unfortunately, as Shakespeare puts it in Hamlet, ‘Rules are more honored in the breach than in the observance’. There’s also some truth to the old proverb, ‘Old habits die hard’. Seeing how the odds are stacked against us, it can be incredibly difficult to stick to our New Years’ resolutions.
The good news is that habits can be broken and new habits can take their place. Human beings are the best at changing and orienting behavior for long term benefits. You can improve your tendency to follow through on habits through some mental exercises. Here are five tips to help you follow through with those New Years’ resolutions.
1). Come up with short term goals
Rather than choosing a long term goal, choose a one or two month goal and try to follow through with that first. As the duration of the goal increases, it becomes more difficult to follow through on the goal. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on long term goals. You just have to break long term goals into short term ones – baby steps, as you will.
2). Write your goals down and share them with friends
It is a known tendency that when you write your goals down and share them with friends, you are more likely to follow through with them. Write your goals down in a journal and review them on a weekly basis. Share your goals with a friend or relative and ask them to follow up with you regularly. Accountability is always important when you are working towards a goal. Otherwise, it’s incredibly easy to put off your goals until tomorrow.
3). Pick up some momentum
Don’t wait until you have finished analyzing your goals to begin investing time and effort in them. For example, if you are behind on your retirement savings and want to increase it substantially this year, begin right away by bumping up your saving by a small amount. This way you will build momentum to motivate you to achieve your goal.
4). Create a game changer
What is the single most important thing that you can do to follow through on a goal? For example, if you want to lose weight, the first thing to do is create a diet and start following it. Focus your energy and time on this aspect of your goal. Then you can do other things like joining a gym, buying running shoes for jogging and so on. Make sure that the action is a game changer, that is, it must change your entire outlook towards the goal.
5). Give yourself a nudge
Edison said, ‘Inspiration without execution is just hallucination’. It is easier to make goals but difficult to follow through. You just need that little nudge to light a fire under you. Whether that is a reminder of the negative consequences of not following through on your goal, or keeping a calendar for achieving the baby steps of your goal and follow through, you need that fire.
Don’t ever forget, ‘Slow and steady wins the race’. Ask people to check up with you on how your goals are progressing, and try not to set a goal too lofty to attain. If you follow through on these steps, you can and will reach your goals. Like Amelia Earhart said, ‘The most difficult step is to start, the rest is just tenacity.’ Good luck on following through with your New Year’s resolution in 2016!