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5 Ways to Strengthen a New Year’s Resolution

Strategies and goals

In recent articles I’ve posted about choosing a New Year’s resolution and why New Year’s resolutions often fail. Now that 2010 has begun, here are 5 ways to make a New Year’s resolution stronger.

1. Schedule a regular time to think about it
New goals can tend to get shoved out of the way when things get busy or complicated. To make sure that they always come back into the spotlight, it’s important to take time to think, talk, or write about that goal on a regular basis. This kind of attention helps encourage problem-solving and makes more opportunities to reflect on and reinforce the kinds of behaviors that will support the goal.

2. Set waypoints
If your new goal is a long-term one, getting to the vision you have for yourself may be a long, challenging trek. Setting waypoints makes goals more immediate and rewarding. For example: if you’re decluttering your house, make each room a goal of its own, the entire focus of your attention until it’s done. While working on that room, you deliberately give yourself permission not to worry about the rest of the house. It’s a lot easier to come to grips with organizing a room than organizing a house, and worrying about the whole thing at once will only get in the way of the large job at hand.

3. Read and learn
Find books, online forums, blogs, in-person groups, magazines, articles, or any other resource that will help you learn how to pursue your goal better, or even just inspire you to keep pursuing it. Learning more about your goal gives you more power to move toward it, keeps it fresh in your mind, and often provides a vision of what things might be like as you see more success.

4. Be prepared for a few failures
If habits were the kind of thing we could just switch off, there would be no need for willpower. Trying to change a bad habit, adopt a good one, or make regular progress to achieve something challenging is difficult and is likely to involve some setbacks now and then. If and when these come, unless you’re defusing a bomb or building a card house, all is not lost. It will help enormously to step back and try to recover soon from a problem rather than saying “Oh, I blew it–now it doesn’t matter what I do.” Failure is a normal byproduct of success, and a lost battle isn’t the same as a lost war.

5. Stay inspired
Taking on anything challenging means that there will be times when you don’t feel like working on your goal and are faced with the choice of pushing ahead or giving up. At these times, it makes a real difference if you’re in touch with why you’re doing what you’re doing and have kept your enthusiasm for it alive. Visualize what things will be like as you make more progress; review the things that draw you toward your goal; reflect on past accomplishments; explain to friends or family why you’ve chosen the path you have; or do anything else you can to keep yourself inspired. Inspiration does not automatically create willpower, but it certain does help fuel it.

Photo by Tim in Sydney

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