They’re notorious for how often they fail. And yet we still make ‘em, expecting the best, against all odds.
Problem is, willpower is vastly overrated. I wish I had a share of Ford stock for every coaching client who’s said to me, “I just have to do it; I need to make myself get it done.” And then next week, they say the same thing.
But the problem is, every time you make a commitment and don’t follow through, you blow a hole in your capacity as a leader, through which your power leaks out.
So, many of us stop making New Year’s Resolutions. Can’t fail at an intention you never set in the first place!
Does that seem like the easy way out? Too stubborn to give up? Then heed these basic principles for increasing the likelihood of being successful at New Year’s Resolutions (or, for that matter, any intention you fear you might not keep):
Every time you make a commitment and don’t follow through, you blow a hole in your capacity as a leader, through which your power leaks out
- Claim a vision for yourself — one you can’t achieve without this resolution. Journal about that vision, create an artistic image of it (if that’s your style), and then find ways to focus on your vision every day. Imagine yourself being that self that you envision, as if watching yourself in a movie of your future.
- Set a date to start your change. Engage in the following activites before the start date.
- Make your commitment to yourself public. Let anyone you trust know.
- Chunk your intention down. Bite off less than you can chew. You can always up the ante after you’ve experienced some initial success.
- If your resolution involves off-loading an undesirable habit, do everything you can to rid yourself of situations and objects that encourage that habit. Recovering alcoholics stay out of bars and empty their liquor cabinets. What’s the analogy for the behavior you want to change?
- Do a task analysis and a project management plan. Schedule activities into your calendar to support the manifestation of your intention. If something else comes up that’s more urgent, commit to re-scheduling that original item in the same week.
- Ask for support. E.g.:
- Find a partner to do it with you
- Take a class or find/create some other external structure
- From good friends, ask for accountability, or moral support, or insights about what might get in the way and how to maximize success. Check in with them regularly.
And if you’re really serious…
- read Changing for Good, a comprehensive, illuminating guide to habit change based on the experience of people who succeeded
- hire a coach. This is what trained personal coaches like me (aka life coaches) do — they help people make sustainable changes in the most effective, efficient ways possible.
A New Year’s Resolution is no joke. Your integrity, your very sense of self, and your capacity for doing good in the world all depend on your ability to follow through on your intentions. I wish you a fruitful 2010.