Making Resolutions Stick

Every year around this time, many people take stock of their lives and think about things they want to change: quit smoking, eat less, exercise more, start a hobby, go on adventures… The intentions are grand. Then, somewhere in the coming days or weeks, those resolutions fizzle out. Why is that? Why is it so hard to change? Often the answer can be found in two areas: values and planning. For a resolution to be successful, it should reflect a deeply held value. For example, a smoker might think, “I want to be healthy and live a long life for my children, see them grow up.” This person will be more successful than the person who thinks, “well, my doctor told me I should.” The first person has connected with a deeply held value. They might even have a specific goal such as, “I want to be healthy enough to run and play ball with my children.” Specific goals connected to a strong belief are very powerful.

Why then can even these people fail? Sometimes it is the lack of a plan. We declare our intention, “I will lose weight.” without developing a specific plan for how we are going to get to our goal. Just as to build a house you need blueprints, to achieve a goal you have to plan out how you will get there. What’s the first step? the second? What materials will you need? What support will you need? Spending time developing a detailed plan will increase your chances for success. If you are going to make a resolution this New Year’s, think about how your resolution connects to what’s really important to you and then plan, plan, plan. Change is hard and there may be setbacks, but you can do it!

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