Want to lose weight, spend more time with your family or get a better job in 2009? These are just a few common New Year’s resolutions many of us make in January and too often forget by mid-March. This year, if you want to keep your resolutions and truly change your life for the better, follow some expert strategies for success.
“The New Year is a great time to self-evaluate and take steps toward your goals. But in order to set those goals and stay focused, many of us need to shift our way of thinking. With the right strategies, you can make permanent changes to your life,” says John G. Miller, an expert who has spent over 20 years studying personal accountability, and author of the books “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question” and “Flipping the Switch.”
Here are some of Miller’s tips for making your New Year’s resolutions stick:
1. Don’t underestimate the power of personal accountability.
If you can shift the way you think away from blame, procrastination and victim thinking, and focus instead on personal choices and responsibility, you can better position yourself for change in your life. Busy-ness is one of the top excuses people use when they don’t keep their resolutions. Stop blaming your calendar by saying, “I’m too busy to visit my parents,” or, “My schedule is too hectic to eat healthy.” Adopt the “no excuses” way of living. Remember — everything is a choice. It’s up to the individual to choose what priorities to make room for in life.
2. Write it down and set a deadline.
Write your goals down and consider tracking your progress in a journal. Set a deadline for when you plan to complete your goal. Do you want to lose 15 pounds in 90 days? Organize your entire house in the next six months? A deadline creates energy; without one your goal is just something you hope to do at some point, someday. Once you’ve reached your deadline, you can look back and measure your progress. If you’ve met the deadline successfully, you’ll feel great! If you haven’t yet reached your goal, you can revamp your plan, set a new deadline and forge ahead.
3. Reach out for support.
Miller says, “Though we can’t change others and they cannot change us, it’s helpful for a close friend to know the path I’m on. If they are aware of my goal, they can support me by asking about my progress, and by not offering chocolate cake if I’m trying to lose weight.” Tell a close friend or family member and encourage them to share their goals with you too. If you’re comfortable, you might also consider joining a support group with others who are working toward similar goals.
4. Bite size goals are best.
Instead of saying, “I want to be a more organized person,” create a goal that is more specific. Set a goal like, “I will keep my car clean instead of it looking like a landfill on wheels.” You might want to lose 15 pounds but you can’t do it all at once. Try a goal like, “I will lose two pounds per month.” For a better chance at success, set your goals for the long term, but measure in the short term. Bite size pieces are easier to chew.
5. Be aware of your feelings.
Tough goals are not achieved easily. Expect a roller coaster of ups and downs and be able to recognize your emotions. When negative emotions arise, refocus your thinking. Miller suggests asking an effective question called a QBQ, or the Question Behind the Question. “Instead of asking, ‘Why does this have to be so hard?’, instead ask ‘What can I do right now to change my thinking?’ When we change our thoughts, we take control of our feelings, which leads to better actions and habits, and ultimately, success.”
6. Focus on the benefits of the change.
When you start to drift from your goal, remind yourself why you have the goal in the first place. Are you losing weight so you have more energy? Are you organizing your house or exercising more so you have less stress? You have this goal for a reason. Especially during the bumps in the road, remind yourself why you have it and the positive outcome you’ll enjoy once it’s achieved.
To learn more about QBQ! and to order both of John Miller’s books, visit www.QBQ.com.