Making New Years’ Resolutions That Stick

“This year, I resolve to make more time for myself in my schedule.” Sound familiar? Every year we make New Years’ resolutions with the idea that we will make ourselves into better people if we just make a resolution. If we could only become more fit because we buy a membership to a gym, we would all look like Venus and Adonis. But it’s not that easy. Achieving our goals is a round the clock, day in day out, month to month and year to year effort.

Nothing comes easy and not without a lot of work. How many times do you see advertisements telling you that you can have what you want whether it’s a new lifestyle, more friends or nicer hair if you just buy something? But how do you make resolutions that stick and actually effect real change?

New Year just happens to be a time when most of us pause and reflect. We may become aware that something is missing from our lives or that those resolutions made last year have somehow slipped by the wayside in our busy lives. The best way to make a resolution that you are going to stick with is to consider:

How motivated am I to change?
Is my resolution in line with my long term goals?
Have I framed my resolution in a positive way?
Can I take practical steps that are reasonable and do-able
How will I make myself accountable to achieve change?

Becoming aware that something that needs to change in your life is the first step to growth, being motivated to change is another story. Let’s take my example: I want to make more time for myself instead of giving it away. I am motivated by my resolution because having more time for myself will make a big difference in my enjoyment of life. I will have time to read books, see friends, take a course or just do what I feel like in the moment. Imagine that! I’m definitely motivated!

My long term goals are to be financially independent, successful, happy, secure and having time to enjoy life. Making time for myself is in line with my long term goals and actually makes the last one more achievable. My resolution makes me feel as if I am getting closer to aligning my goals with my life. This is something I want!

didn’t frame my resolution in a negative way. My goal is positive. It is something I am willing to work toward because it has a good outcome for me and I will feel positive about achieving change. Feeling positive about my resolution helps me to fulfill it.

Starting today I will take steps to find more time for myself. I resolve to leave one evening unplanned each week to do what ever I feel like doing and as I tend to work through lunch I will schedule a one hour break for lunch at least once a week. Notice I am taking small steps toward my goal? I am doing what I feel I can manage. If I take too radical a change I may doom my efforts, winding up with too much time on my hands and leaving other parts of my life neglected. I can manage small changes in behavior and when I feel ready, I will take on more.

Making myself accountable is one of the biggest challenges of making resolutions stick and it is one of the reasons why we all backslide on them. I will rely on my coach to help me with this one. Each week I will check in with her to give her a progress report. When I first started working with her, she gave me a life wheel to complete. Filling the chart in, I noticed that I had been neglecting my personal life, so this became a focus of our work. Little by little I have been reclaiming more of my time for my own use while I work toward my other goals.

There’s nothing wrong with making resolutions at this time of the year because this is as good a time any to make positive changes that enhance your life. Follow the simple steps and if you are not already working with a coach, find one. A coach will help you identify your strengths and work with them to help you define the steps you must take to reach your goals. A coach will keep you on track all year long so next year you won’t be mumbling the same old resolutions from the year before.

Happy New Year!
And may all your resolutions stick!

Coach Bradley

Author's Bio: 

Bradley Foster is a life, executive and leadership coach based in Toronto. I have an arts and business background, an MA and trained in leadership and psychotherapy at the Gestalt Institute.