“I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles, but a good deal about their acts.” Og Mandino

As New Years Day approaches, many people are readying their resolutions in earnest; the lure of the New Year incites the best of us with the opportunity to ‘start over’ and ‘improve and refresh’ our lives.

Does the anticipation of setting resolutions inspire you with delight at the transformations that are soon to be, or bring up steely – though shaky - determination to finally carry through with whatever you have resolved to accomplish this year? Alternatively still, are you visited by the realization that you will, without a shadow of a doubt, let yourself down… yet again?

Why do resolutions have such a pull on us year after year? Resolving to change habits and reach new heights in our personal and professional lives is so popular because we all feel there are ways we’d like to improve. We set our sights upon lofty goals, yet commonly find ourselves petering out each year before these aspirations are fully realized. When this happens, it's common to blame ourselves for not having the 'will power’ to see our goals through to fruition.

If you resolve to transform some facet of your life and have not experienced true success yet you nevertheless decide to try again the next year, I see that as a very optimistic overture. It really takes guts to get back into the ring with the knowledge that similar past attempts have knocked you on your ass.

Rather than beating yourself up for earlier failures, why not give yourself the respect you deserve for your courage? If you never learned how to set and reach goals effectively, then even your best intentions will likely result with you walking head on into a wall or roadblock. If you then recommit with vigor before learning from your mistakes, you'll end up walking even harder into that wall, only now you’re bruised and defeated.

By identifying strategies that do not work and altering your mindset, you will finally be able to realize the objectives that you set for yourself. Here are some guidelines you might find helpful:

1. DEFINE WHAT YOU WANT. In order to reach your destination, you first need to know where you’re going. Brainstorm ideas before committing to a particular direction.

2. HAVE A STRONG DESIRE. Motivation moves you forward. Choose goals that you really want. The greater your desire, the more you will be driven to act, so take time to get really clear on the reasons why you aspire to each unique goal.

3. FIND A BALANCE. Set realistic – yet challenging - goals. We avoid things that are too confusing, rigid, or overwhelming, but you may lose interest if your goal doesn’t bring about enough change. Better to eat balanced meals and work out four days a week as opposed to eating only carrots and celery while working out seven days a week. You may lose weight faster in the second scenario, but it’s not a recipe for healthy, long-term success.

4. IDENTIFY GLITCHES. Decipher potential obstacles or self-sabotage so you’ll be equipped to solve your way out of them when they show up. An example from my life is that I often have to drive quite a distance to my appointments. If I don’t eat for long periods of time, my blood sugar drops and then I may not choose the sorts of things to eat that I would otherwise. The solution I’ve come up with is to keep almonds and apples in my car so I have healthy food handy for those times I get stuck in traffic.

5. DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION. A common destroyer of dreams is the expectation of perfection, but since no one is perfect, you can expect to slip-up from time to time. Formulate a plan for quickly getting back on track when you falter. Write the plan down so you’ll be able to refer to it when you want to throw in the towel because you haven’t attained unreal levels of flawlessness. Oh, and feel free to talk out loud in encouraging, reassuring terms to that inner child within you. Don’t knock it till you try it - it really works!

6. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE. Our subconscious tunes in to what we focus on. If you repeat: ‘Don’t eat chocolate, don’t eat chocolate, eat anything but chocolate, what do you think will be on your mind? That’s right: chocolate! Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. ‘I will not eat chocolate’ can become ‘I will eat healthy food in order to increase my energy and feel better.’

7. CREATE A STEP-BY-STEP ACTION PLAN. If your goal is to ‘write a book’, break it down into a specific, measurable action plan to move yourself forward. ‘Outline chapters, research topics 1, 2, and 3, interview these specific experts, read these books on the topic. Give a deadline to each individual action.

8. SET COMPLETION DATE. Goals are dreams with time limits. Work backwards from your completion date – if you want to be able to run six miles a day within three months, then in one and a half months, your aim is to run three miles.

9. GET CLEAR ON THE VALUE. Any goal worth achieving is long-term solution rather than a quick fix. Reframe the concept of ‘effort’ to ‘investment’.

10. WRITE/POST GOALS. Writing makes your goals real. Write in detail, in the positive, and in present tense. Focus on your goal/s all the time. Utilize visual reminders such as a white board and/or vision board.

11. BE CONSISTENT. Impatience slows you down more quickly than anything else. Consistency is the key, not a quick, dramatic change that will backfire on you by next month. Post up a calendar where you can visually track your progress.

12. REWARD YOURSELF. Rewards your efforts along the way. This reinforcement can keep you going through the hard times and the desire for immediate gratification. Example: when you finish the first half of your thesis, get a massage or go on a weekend get-a-way.

You absolutely can achieve what you set out to do if you’re ready to let go of the automatic mindset that has been holding you back. When you walk into the wall next time, say a big ‘Thank you!’ and resolve to learn from it; you have just recognized another way that doesn’t work which brings you that much closer to what does!

Author's Bio: 

With 20 years of experience in the field of human behavior as a Certified Jungian Hypnotherapist and practitioner of Cognitve-Behavioral Therapy, Sasha Lauren helps people turn their dreams into reality by understanding the direct connection between their mindset and the outer world.

She has written a Special Free Report entitled "The Top Ten Organizational Tips You Can't Live Without" which is available at http://www.RemarkableTransformations.com

You can reach Ms. Lauren directly at (310) 927-0297 to schedule a coaching session by phone from anywhere in the country, a hands-on organizing/coaching session in Southern California, or to book her as a Keynote Speaker on Productivity.