December can be an insanely busy month, but it’s also the ideal time to find some space to grab a cup of hot chocolate and plan your New Year’s resolutions to help make sure 2018 unfolds the way you want it to.
And yes, a lot of people find New Year’s resolutions lame, largely because they know they don’t work! Or at least for them. There’s a reason, after all, that fitness club attendance spikes in early January then plunges off a cliff come February. Several surveys suggest that while roughly 50 per cent of people make New Year’s resolutions, sadly only eight per cent actually keep them.
So what’s the secret to making it into the “8% club”? Let’s start by looking at why most people fail to keep their resolutions:
· You’ve recycled old resolutions. If you’ve merely scratched off the year 2017 and replaced it with 2018, that’s a major red flag that nothing will change. Recycling old resolutions typically never works.
· You don't really want to make the change. "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change!" It's an old joke that reminds us of the adage that real change must come from within. So, another sign your New Year's resolution may start with a bang but fizzle with a whimper, is that you are trying to change for the wrong reasons.
· Your resolutions are too vague. Vague goals that are ill-defined or not measured are almost never achieved.
· You have no plan of attack. It’s fine to set a resolution, but if you have no idea of how to get to your final destination, then chances are you’ll end up somewhere else. Likely back where you started!
· You have no support team in place. It’s incredibly hard to make substantial changes in your life when you go it alone.
· You view it as a one-time event. Viewing your resolution as a one-off event with a fixed deadline almost always guarantees that you won’t create the long-term habits needed to make the goal a sustainable reality.
So What Does Work?
Here are a few of the success habits the “8% club” practices:
1. They set specific, measurable and realistic goals. And they back these goals up with a plan of action for how to get from point A to point B.
2. They link their motivation to short-term gains over long-term gains. Making a change often becomes a battle between your “present day self” vs. future self” And guess who usually wins that battle? So if your goals is to start walking three times a week for 40 minutes, rather than linking the motivation to, “If I walk three times a week I’ll be healthier in my old age and more fit a year from now” (future self talk), tie it to immediate goals: “If I walk three times a week I’ll have more energy throughout the day, I’ll get a chance to let my mind wander, I’ll see interesting things and connect with friends” (present self talk). You’ll be far more successful.
3. They publicly commit to their resolution. Scads of research suggests that publicly committing to a goal substantially increases the likelihood of achieving the goal.
4. They create an accountability partner. They find someone to act as a mentor, cheerleader and, yes, sometimes, a butt-kicker!
5. They often create “resolution clubs”. These make sure that, even beyond an accountability partner, they have an entire enthusiastic support team working through the same challenges.
6. They celebrate small wins. There’s a huge amount of research on the power of celebrating small wins – when we celebrate small milestones it builds momentum, reinforces positive behaviours, and it has a disproportionate impact beyond the small step it signifies.
7. They make the changes fun. By embracing the mantra, “Change made fun, gets done!” they look for creative ways to incorporate fun into the mix – listening to their favourite rocking tunes while they work out, making outrageously fun bets to help motivate them, including family members and friends in the challenge, or celebrating in ridiculously fun ways.
Ultimately the choice is yours, and the power lies within you to make any change you need to make to help you make sure 2018 is one of your best years ever!
Michael Kerr is an international Hall of Fame speaker and author who travels the world researching, writing, and speaking about inspiring workplace cultures, inspiring leadership, and humour in the workplace. www.MikeKerr.com