Start Right!

_67879706_start_thinkstockA day more until the dawn of a new year!

And we all know the excitement that comes with the beginning of a new calendar year because it gives us another opportunity to start afresh in life. But that’s not all. It also reminds us of how bad we are at planning and working out our resolutions. We often start off so well with this super crazy energy only to lose that ‘spark’ somewhere around mid-February.

I haven’t been successful myself over the past years when it comes to setting and working out a resolution. But the very few times I have been able to accomplish a set target, I learnt some really beneficial things. I just want to share them with you briefly in hopes that they will also help you to successfully map out your plans for the year.

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Write your resolutions down. Never leave them hanging in your mind like a painting. When you do that, you unconsciously make it appear more abstract to you. You are more likely to connect your thoughts and corresponding actions better when you write your resolutions down. Get a diary/journal, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone or any device that can help make your plans look real to you.

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Don’t overcrowd your list! Too many ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ on your task-list will surely mess things up. Your brain has never been a fan of that. At least, start with one resolution so that you get familiar with the ‘goal setting-goal getting’ attitude. That does not mean you have nothing to work on. It doesn’t mean you’re a lazy person either. We all have many things to work on but starting simple is key. With that, your attention is undivided and your energy isn’t expended on so many things at the same time.

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Set attainable and meaningful resolutions. Don’t set resolutions just because you were pressured to do so or you just felt like it. If you consider yourself to be living a full life, then you have no right to make haphazard decisions that wouldn’t  bring any good value to you. Instead, set resolutions that will bring relevant changes to your life and your surroundings.  No exaggerations. Keep it simple, realistic and achievable.

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Digest your plan(s) into smaller, actionable steps. The most effective way to break down your resolutions into smaller bits is to tie them to specific habits. The chances of your success in carrying out specific goals are higher if you consciously link them to simple routines. For example, your resolution is to quit drinking. You can make it feasible by doing something like replacing the bottles of alcohol you gulp down every evening with a smoothie or a fruit juice. If you leave it at the ‘Quit drinking’ level, it becomes too blurry and confusing. Once you move it another step down to the ‘habit’ level, the plan becomes clearer. You focus better on what to do. It becomes more practical.

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Be consistent with the program. It is mostly advisable to commit your resolutions to at least 21 consistent days. This is so because you are likely to experience both success and setbacks within that period which goes a long way to inform you on what to expect later. Not only that, you begin to develop a lasting habit towards it. Once it becomes a part of you, you don’t struggle so much to keep up.

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Learn from the little trials that may come your way. Trials and tests are not pleasant but never despise them. There’s always something to learn from them. They may be small but they gradually build you up for mightier challenges. Pay close attention to the little setbacks, pluck out every lesson you can from them and keep on keeping on.

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Have a contingency plan. A contingency plan is a special ‘plan B’ that takes into consideration any possible future circumstances. We are humans and therefore mistakes are certainly unavoidable. But what do you do if your original plan falls through along the way? Do you change the resolutions entirely? Do you give up? Let’s say you’ve decided to keep fit by jogging every morning. What’s your plan B for a rainy morning? Definitely not a holiday! This is where your alternate plan kicks in. In this instance, your contingency plan may be jumping rope which has a similar effect to jogging. Your contingency plan must be simple but solid enough to be a strong back-up. Good contingency plans are made by analyzing the risk factors associated with the resolution(s) at hand. Once you have that plan set out, your chances of total unawareness and disappointments reduce drastically.

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Be accountable to someone. Tell a friend, a family member or any reliable person about the goals you plan to achieve. Your partner should be dependable, motivational and very honest with his feedback. Make sure they understand why you decided to put those particular resolutions down on paper. A better understanding of your goals will result in effective monitoring.

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Build your willpower gradually. We are not naturally born with a strong willpower. It is something we must work on. Willpower is a limited resource as some studies have shown. Not only is time, effort and great amount of determination needed to strengthen it, one must also proceed with caution in order to use it wisely. The trick is to exercise it little by little and soon your little build-ups will create a very strong willpower within you.

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Keep track of your progress. This is very important. Set specific times within the year to evaluate your progress. This helps you to know what you’re doing right and to make necessary changes to what you’re doing wrong. Don’t wait until the end of the year before you review your progress. It doesn’t help one bit because you are unable to make reasonable adjustments along the way (if needs be). It does not also mean you have to track your progress on a daily basis. If the structure of your resolution demands that, go ahead with it. If not, you can track your progress either weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly. It’s all up to you. Just make sure you set aside times in the year where you can sit back and evaluate your performance.

 

It’s your turn now! How do you also set your resolutions? How do you make them stick? I’d appreciate it so much if you leave your suggestions in the comment box below. Happy New Year in advance!

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