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5 Keys to Resolution Success

January 7, 2010

Make it Nonnegotiable

Promise yourself that you are absolutely going to do it. When you do it, where you do it, how you do it can, and most likely will, change according to circumstances. But that you will do it is not open for consideration. Call it a vow, a promise, a pledge, a commitment. Whatever you name it, making it choiceless is a tool for overcoming backsliding after your initial enthusiasm fades. You don’t negotiate with yourself about brushing your teeth. You just do it. I bet you usually honor your commitments to other people too. Treat yourself equally well. Make losing weight a nonnegotiable commitment in your life.

Make it Actionable

Is your goal concrete enough? Many of us fail because we haven’t turned it into something to actually do. Actions tell you HOW you’re going to do something—I’m going to walk 30 minutes daily and go to the gym twice a week; I’m going to eliminate sugar and white starches. To succeed you must know what actions you’re going to take.

Come Up with Solutions for Your Usual Excuses and Rationalizations

One way to think about this is to ask yourself what has gotten in your way in the past when you’ve tried to lose weight. Forgetting? No time? Too boring? Not knowing how to begin? And what are the rationalizations you give yourself when you gave up in the past? It doesn’t matter? It’s not that bad? It’s too hard? Instead of just hoping it will be different this time, write down your typical excuses and rationalizations and create strategies in advance for dealing with them. That way you won’t get stopped in your tracks and lose forward momentum when they arise. And yes, they will! Because of the way our brains are hardwired, we have a strong tendency to repeat behavior over and over.

Use Procrastination to Your Advantage

Business coach Mike R. Jay claims that 60% of the population is “pressure prompted,” as it’s called on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It’s a preference, usually labeled as procrastination, to take in information for as long as possible before being forced into action by some external deadline. The other 40% of us are “early-starters,” who prefer to get the ball rolling and avoid pressure. If you fall into the pressure-prompted majority, find a deadline that will help you get into motion—a reunion, a vacation, a wedding, a performance. One would-be diet-and- exerciser finally got off the starting line when he got the lead in a local production of The Full Monty, which required him to parade around in a g-string in three month’s time. To be effective, the deadline must be real and come from the outside. Pressure-prompters tend to blow off self-created ones.

Schedule It In

Before Jan. 2004, I never exercised a day in my life. Since then, I have kept my resolution to exercise 30 minutes a day about 80 percent of the time. How did I do it? Put into my day planner and treated it as an appointment with a client. Otherwise it’s too easy to schedule all my time away with things I enjoy more (which is everything). Make a specific, time-bound appointment with yourself and you’ll be much more likely to do it.

More tips to success next time.


2 Responses to “5 Keys to Resolution Success”

  1. jarredalexandrov said:

    MJ – These are some absolutely great tips. I am working on re-framing my peer’s conceptions of goals as well. I definitely think that labeling something a promise goes a long way on its own. The two things I would add to your list would be:

    1) find a way to measure your accountability each week or each month
    2) super-charge your promises with emotion. What i mean is dont think so much about the promise itself, but focus on how it makes you feel to accomplish it.

    Thank you, Jarred

  2. maryjaneryan said:

    Yes, Jarred, these 2 are important. That’s why I have the item about tracking for your #1. As for the second, it’s important because it appeals to our mammalian brains that only care about pain or pleasure, safety or danger. My book THIS YEAR I WILL..goes into detail as to why that is a crucial factor in sucess. I love how you summed it up in a sentence.