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Already Blown Your New Year’s Resolutions?

If you haven’t, good for you, rock star!  Apparently only 8% of people keep them.  I find that number shockingly low.  We are a weak and wimpy bunch!  92% of us want to make changes in our lives, but just don’t have the discipline to do it.  Here are some thoughts that might help:

If you are planning to add something that will take time (exercise, for example) decide what you are currently doing that you will stop doing.  Usually we just say we’re going to add something and don’t think about where/when.  You must create space for it.  Not sleeping is not an option.

One of the reasons we don’t reach all our goals is we set too many.  We say we’re going to save money, lose weight, start exercising and get organized.  You just added things that will take three hours a day.  Where do you think that time is coming from?  It was over before you even started.

Resolve to change just one thing.  Say you choose getting organized.  Chances are it’s going to take a significant investment of time and attention to make that happen.  Then you’re going to have to allocate time going forward to staying organized.  (This is where we usually fail.) If you get that mastered, then you can change something else.  Changing too many things at once is just too hard.

The problem is you already have several habits that are keeping you from achieving your resolutions.  I’ll use myself as an example.  I’ve fallen into the habit of watching tv in the evenings (curse you, Netflix!).  And while I’m watching, I eat.  If I want to eat less, I need to do something else while watching tv.  Or I need to stop watching tv.  If I don’t pick an alternate habit, I’m just going to try and willpower my way through it, and trust me, that won’t work.

What works for me is some project that occupies just enough of my mind to get it off food but not enough that I miss my show.  Things that work – folding laundry, riding the stationary bike, going through e-mail.  I’m not giving up tv and food – I know my limits.  Know yours.

Don’t even consider changing something unless you can commit to changing it forever.  Diets usually fail because we think after we’ve lost the weight, we can go back to eating things we actually like.  If you’re not good with dieting forever, it’s better to find another weigh.  (Ha, couldn’t help it.)  For example, you might say, “I’m not giving up dessert, what’s the point of life without it?”  Maybe you could try eating it only three times a week. Or maybe you consider giving up something else you don’t like as much.  (For me, it’s bread.)  But remember, you’re letting it go forever.

Always have a plan.  I can give up pigging out in front of the tv forever.  I really can.  When I get derailed is when I don’t have a plan.  If there’s no laundry, and I’ve already worked out…. hello, snacks!  When is the best time to plan?  Not when I’m hungry!  I have to have the plan in place well before then.  Same thing holds for whatever you’re trying to do – gotta have a bad weather plan for exercise.  Don’t wait till you’re at home, settled in front of the fire to get your cold weather exercise plan together.  It’s too late.

Change your thinking.  Are you an all or nothing thinker?  I am, I admit it.  Once I’ve blown a diet, I’m blowing it all the way, baby!  If I don’t have time to do my full workout, I do no workout.  If I can’t do it right, I’m not doing it at all.  (I have never claimed to be rational.)  This is nuts!  It’s better to eat a few cookies and stop than eat the whole pack and dip them in frosting!  Half a workout is better than no workout!  The year is still young – why are you already calling it quits on your resolutions?  This kind of thinking goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism.  (Perfectionists – you know who you are.)  Let go of perfect to get better.

Here’s another way to change your thinking – question your beliefs.  I bet you hold some beliefs that may be getting in the way of achieving your goals.  Some people believe they must eat three meals a day.  Why?  New research shows that not eating for at least 12 hours can help you lose weight.  So, if you want to eat breakfast at 7:00 am, you would stop eating at 7:00 pm.  I don’t eat breakfast, haven’t for years.  Turns out all that stuff about it being the most important meal of the day isn’t so true after all.

There are lots of false beliefs that keep us disorganized.  Here are a few: I might need it someday.  My grandkids will want to play with these toys.  I’m going to fix it, mend it, find the missing part….  Just throw that stuff away.  I bet there are certain things you buy that you believe you can’t do without.   Review your beliefs and you might be able to keep your resolutions.

Toughen up.  Guess what?  It’s not easy to be organized, save money, lose weight (fill in your resolution).  All of us would rather chill out, eat ice cream and watch Netflix.  To have what you want in life, you sometimes must do what you need to do (exercise), not what you want to do (eat cake).  Successful people choose the harder thing (exercise, saving, making the sales call, etc.) over the easy thing more often than the rest of us.  The really successful chose it so often, it’s not a choice anymore, it’s a habit.

Try this – pick something small and easy.  End each day with 5 fewer e-mails in your inbox.  Make one sales call first thing.  Be on the diet for one meal a day for a week.  Or exercise just once a week for a month.  Then increase it.  Go slowly – 10 fewer e-mails, diet for one meal and drop a snack, exercise twice a week.  If you backslide, go back to the smallest amount you can sustain.  You’ll still be making progress and you’ll be building your discipline muscles.

Amp up your motivation.  Make sure your resolutions are what you really want, not things you think you should want.  Listen to podcasts or read books that will help keep you focused (health, organizing, finance).  Be around people with similar goals.  Don’t beat yourself up if you backslide; instead, take the time to analyze and learn from what happened.  Keep inching forward, progress doesn’t always come in great leaps.  Have realistic expectations.  Are you going to let those resolutions beat you?  Get back in there and get the life you want!

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