THE ONLY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION
By Rosemary Ann Ogilvie
Intro: With the New Year just a few parties away, we’re starting to think about preparing that inevitable list of resolutions most of us never keep. In this article, we suggest a different tack to take, one that greatly increases our chances of achieving a special dream we may have – and with minimal pain.
Q: I’m totally over this whole New Year’s resolution thing as I don’t think I’ve ever managed to keep even one of them! But because it is New Year and everyone I know is preparing a list of them, I feel almost compelled to write one as well even though I don’t want to.
It’s a classic scenario: on January 1 you’re fired with enthusiasm and determined nothing will stop you achieving every New Year’s resolution on your list.
Somewhere between then and March 1, that list disappears into the jaws of the shredding machine as you realise you haven’t a hope in the world of quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising regularly, being more involved with your entire family, renovating your home and taking frequent short breaks, while learning to play a musical instrument and speak another language.
However, the new year is a time of new beginnings, which is why it’s almost impossible not to get hooked into the resolution-making process – even though it means breaking last year’s vow never to make another one as long as you live!
This year, restrict your list to a single resolution: apart from the fact that one is quite enough for a busy person to work on, there is incredible power in giving laser-focussed attention to just one goal at a time.
Your resolution may be to improve your health; build your wealth; become more organised; spend more time with your children; or take the first step in creating a family by finding your perfect life partner. The important thing is that it’s something you want, not something that sounds good, or something you or someone else thinks you ‘should’ do. Approach this resolution positively, with the strong belief that you will achieve it. Don’t let previous failures to stay the distance with new year’s resolutions influence your thinking as this almost guarantees another failure.
Write It Down
The first step in attaining your goal is to spend a few minutes writing it down in precise detail. If your goal is to find your life partner, include as much information as possible about your ideal person’s physical attributes – age; height, weight, skin colour, hair colour; personal attributes such as sense of humour; kindness; loves travel, theatre, food, wine, animals and kids; academic qualifications; and sporting prowess.
Henriette Anne Klauser details the power of recording your most extravagant wishes in her truly life-changing book Write It Down, Make It Happen. The act of writing helps you clarify your goals, dispel self-doubt and boost your self-confidence while you actively participate in achieving them. And when you write your own life script, the world can cooperate with your ambition.
The next step is to visualise yourself achieving your goal. For the ideal-partner resolution, picture yourself enjoying all the things you love to do with this person at your side, and project this image on your mental screen several times a day. Consciously channelling your imagination this way can be an incredibly powerful tool for transforming dreams into reality – something successful sportspeople use all the time. While the intense training they undergo is fundamental to winning, they also need to visualise themselves coming in ahead of their competitors.
One Step at a Time
The third step is to identify what you need to do to achieve your goal. Break it down into small achievable steps and set a realistic time frame for completing each one. So for the life partner goal, the steps could be:
Set Things Up to Ensure You Win
Determine the physical resources necessary to work on your resolution and equip yourself with them. If, for example, your goal is to improve your fitness levels, you may decide to set up a mini home gymnasium so you can exercise when it suits you, without wasting time travelling to and from a commercial gym.
Similarly, decide on the changes you must make in your life to support you in achieving your goal. For the fitness goal, you’ll need to allocate time for your workout regimen, which may necessitate getting up 30 minutes earlier, or leaving work 30 minutes earlier – or splitting the difference between the two options.
Take actions that are consistent with your commitment and eliminate inconsistent actions. Sticking with the fitness theme, write your daily exercise appointment in your business diary. Treat it as seriously as any other business appointment – and make it clear you expect those around you at work and at home to show equal respect for these appointments.
As you work towards transforming your goal into reality, constantly monitor your self-talk. Pick up immediately on any negative thoughts such as ‘I’ll never make it’, ‘it’s all too hard’ ‘I just can’t do this anymore’ and switch them into positives. Be cautious, too, in sharing your goals with others unless the person is crucial for helping you achieve your objective. Negative responses can drag you down quite rapidly, especially during those times when the going does get a little rough.
Goals should be fluid, so adjust them as necessary along the way. If you don’t achieve a step in the specified time frame, don’t pull the whole project or become depressed in the belief that you ‘failed’ this step. Look at it positively: the time frame was only an estimate; you miscalculated – and no one can predict how life will interfere with carefully laid plans! Update your timeline and congratulate yourself on your achievements thus far. On this subject, it’s important to make a point of celebrating each success along the way – however small – to keep your motivation high: success has a way of building on success. And be sure to acknowledge all who helped you along the way.
If you are struggling with your goal, consider using the services of a life coach. They can be very supportive in the goal-setting process, helping you to prioritise what is important and set challenging targets, and encouraging you to believe they are truly achievable. Life coaches can also show you how to break ingrained negative belief patterns and channel your energy into a more effective form.
Finally, when setting your new year’s resolution, be sure it doesn’t conflict with other objectives you are working towards. To illustrate: if you’ve signed up for some major study, this is probably not the time to set a goal to meet your ideal life partner as you simply won’t have any spare time to go searching for them. Non-integrated thinking sabotages your efforts to attain your goals, so aim to eliminate contradictory ideas.