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Making & Achieving Resolutions

by Jennifer McCoy

Did you set a New Year Resolution this year? And are you still holding to it? When you make a resolution, what you are really doing is setting a goal. The trouble is New Year Resolutions are seldom like the tangible goals you set at work, for instance getting a report done by the end of the week or achieving certain sales targets - goals that we mostly achieve. The difference with New Year Resolutions is, we set goals that require us to change the way we do things, to change habits - habits that have been built up over years - and we don't achieve them.

We make resolutions about losing weight or seeing friends more often or not working late at the office and so on - and we find it incredibly difficult to make the commitment to achieving the goal.

What are the habits that lie behind each of these resolutions? What are the behaviours that we are trying to change? Behind losing weight might be the habit of eating the wrong foods or not exercising; behind seeing friends might be the habit of taking the lasy way out and staying home to watch TV at the weekend instead of organising get-togethers with friends; behind staying late at the office might be the habit of not being organised so we have to stay back at the end of the day.

Take out your New Year Resolution now and have a good look at it. If you haven't written it down, take a notebook and write it out at the top of the page. Now think about these questions and make a few notes, just dot points as you go:

  • How important is this goal to me - on a scale of 1 - 10?
  • What are the advantages of achieving it?
  • What are the downsides, the risks of not achieving it?

Now think ahead and imagine that you have got there; you've achieved the goal. Think about all the positives in those changes you made whether it's having much more energy or fitting in to clothes or having an exciting social life. What do you feel now you've achieved the goal. Write that down too. For instance, if you made a resolution to see friends more often and you see yourself, six months along having achieved your goal you might write:

I feel so relaxed and energised whenever I get together with friends sharing stories, bouncing ideas, just laughing together - I love the support and balance it give me.

Now in that sentence there is not a single negative idea, nothing that makes you feel guilty about inaction in the past, nothing that suggests a burden about making that interaction with friends actually happen. It's all positive.

That still may not be enough to spur you into action, at least after an initial effort anyway. The most powerful way to maintain your commitment is to write this sentence out on a card and read it a couple of times a day when your brain is most receptive, say first thing in the morning and then last thing at night. When you have such a clear picture and the associated feeling, when you keep it is constantly in your mind, you will find it easy to set dates, create occasions or respond to invitations that bring you and your friends together. Gradually you will change your behaviour and a new habit will slowly form. Just give yourself 6 months though for it took at least that much time to develop the old habit.

Now a resolution of this kind is really quite a simple exercise. More challenging goals, whether they are professional or personal can involve more firmly established habits sometimes habits that you didn't know you had. That's where coaching can help.

Read about our coaching services and download a couple of Free Tools and to help you with some self-coaching. Read more >>>