How to Make New Year’s Resolutions Work

As we come to the close of this year, and the dawn of a new year, it is important to take stock of the present and plan for the future. Many people make half-hearted New Year’s resolutions because they don’t take the time to focus on vision. The vision for their life. The vision for the New Year. The vision for their job or business. The vision for their health or family. Nothing happens without vision. Vision gives us direction. It empowers us. It helps us set and pursue goals. It’s how to make New Year’s resolutions stick. So, as you plan for 2017, it is important to think about the vision for your future—the what, the how, and the why.

The What – We all have a calling on our lives. Whether it’s running a business, building a family, or being the best employee we can be, we are all moving towards some specific life pursuit. It is essential to identify your “what.” What is the thing you want for your life? I often advise my clients to look across several different areas in their lives when identifying the “what’s.” Some of these areas include: personal goals, professional goals, relational goals, spiritual goals, financial goals, and career goals. Figuring out the “what” in each of these areas helps bring the vision to life. It allows us to get specific about the things that matter most. It gives purpose to New Year’s resolutions.

The How – The “how” needs to be your action plan. It’s the blueprint for how you will approach tackling a New Year’s resolution. It involves making plans and following through with persistence. It also involves making the best use of our time so that we can achieve our dreams and goals. This is especially critical for New Year’s resolutions. Remember, if you want to succeed at anything in life, you must be willing to put in the hard work to make it happen. 20% of our talents and capabilities come from nature. The other 80%, the nurture side, comes from putting in the hard work. If you make a concerted effort to use the time that you have in pursuing New Year’s resolutions, you’re more likely to see them come to pass.

The Why – If you’re going to keep a New Year’s resolution, you have to know “why” you’re pursuing the goal in the first place. You will only get so far without have the reason behind the resolution. Some of the questions that I ask clients to answer include: Why am I pursing a specific goal or objective? Why is it important to me to make a change in this area of my life? Why should I put in all the hard work towards this New Year’s resolution? Understanding the “why” reinforces our efforts to stick with the resolution and make it a reality. Without the “why,” we can easily get sidetracked and lose sight of our primary objective. Without the “why,” we can be quick to give up on our objective when things get difficult or when we experience some adversity.

Once you have a thorough understanding of the what, how, and why, you are ready to follow seven steps to set and keep your New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Begin with Desire: The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. Choose resolutions that give you passion and come from a burning desire. Do you want that promotion? Have a weight loss goal? Want to learn a new skill? We move in the direction of our deepest desires. Remember that as you make your New Year’s resolutions.
  2. Make a Decision: Desire is the starting point. Next, it is critical to identify a goal and make a decision. Starting today I will quit smoking. Join a gym. Learn how to play piano. Find a new job. Start a new business. All of these areas involve decision-making. Pick a goal that means something to you and decide to pursue it. The decision to take on a goal has a powerful effect on our subconscious mind. It starts to make the goal a reality through continued thought and mediation on its attainment.
  3. Exercise Some Faith: Setting and pursuing New Year’s resolutions requires faith. You have to step out on the skinny branch when attempting to accomplish something new. Trust your gut. Trust your experience. Trust in karma, a Higher Power, or whatever your spiritual beliefs might be. Exercising faith will help you push through self-doubt.
  4. Be Persistent: Be persistent no matter how slowly you may, at first, have to move. WITH PERSISTENCE, WILL COME SUCCESS. There is no substitute for persistence. Persistence is a state of mind, so it can be cultivated. You can cultivate this skill by having a definite purpose, a definite plan for how you will achieve your goal, and putting in place the right habits that will get you there.
  5. Leverage the Master Mind: We all need people that will hold us accountable to our goals. I call this the Master Mind group – those close trusted allies that you keep in your inner circle. This could be a husband or wife, a parent, brothers or sisters, close friends, business colleagues, or other people whose opinions you respect. This will help navigate challenges and complacency. We all know the folks who join a gym on January 2nd, only to quit going on January 20th because they aren’t accountable to anyone. Having a Master Mind group holds you accountable.
  6. Organized Planning: A New Year’s resolution, in and of itself, means very little UNLESS it is backed by a definitive game plan. So, what’s your playbook? How are you going to get from point A to point B? Be organized in your plan of attack. Break the goal down into smaller steps. For example, if you want to lose 15lbs, start with a gym routine and a diet regimen. Track your progress. Set small goals. Reward performance.
  7. Be Consistent: Consistency is key. This is perhaps the biggest problem that people run into with New Year’s resolutions. They set overly ambitious goals and then burnout quickly because they don’t put in the consistent work. Remember, nothing happens unless steps are taken every day. You don’t get a promotion overnight. You don’t start that successful new business in six months. Pacing and consistency is key.

Figure out your vision for 2017. Identify the what, how, and why. Once you have the vision for your year laid out, follow the seven steps to setting and achieving your New Year’s resolutions. Good luck on your journey! May 2017 be your best year yet!!!

Adam C. Bandelli, Ph.D. is the Managing Director of Bandelli & Associates, a boutique consulting firm focusing on leadership development and organizational effectiveness.

Leadership Matter. Without It, People Fail.