Change is sometimes necessary but not necessarily easy. As quickly as some resolutions are created, they are discarded and forgotten because resolutioners realize that change takes work. Creating a goal and putting a plan into action takes time and effort. Though difficult, this time and effort will eventually turn into real benefits that will improve your life. Quitting before seeing improvements is a major disservice to yourself.
1. Not Written Down. Write down your resolutions and goals. Your journal should include why you want to change and what your desired outcome is. Do this as soon as you think of your resolution because that is when you will want to change the most. This will help you later on when you start having doubts about change. Reading your thoughts on change from when you were much more motivated will give you a needed boost.
2. Broad Goals. If your goal isn’t specific you won’t know when you’ve reached it. If you never reach it, you might give up before you see any positive changes. When you write down your resolution, be as specific as possible. Good examples include, “lose 10 pounds in two months” or “start running 3 miles per week.” Those examples are a lot better than “losing weight” or “getting into shape” because they have specific targets to meet.
3. No Rewards. Reward yourself when you reach certain milestones. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, reward yourself when you lose five pounds, then ten pounds and your final goal of 20 pounds. Rewards can be anything you want: vacation, buying something nice or having an unhealthy cheat meal (in moderation).
4. Unrealistic Goals. Some people make unrealistic goals and wonder why they fail. If you’ve never been to the gym and you want to start going five times per week, you might not be physically able to accomplish that. If you really want to workout five times a week, do it in small stages. In the first month go three times a week, then four times (in the second month) and finally five times (in the third month). Turning big goals into a series of smaller ones will help you successfully tackle big change.
5. Quitting Too Soon. One of the biggest reasons that resolutions fail is because people give up too quickly. A resolution is basically waking up one day (the 1st of January) and trying to change something about yourself. You can decide to make the change overnight but you can’t actually change that quickly. Even the smallest slip can turn into a failed resolution. Some think that messing up one day is a good enough reason to quit; it’s not. Mistakes should never discourage you from improving your life. Missing a day at the gym or having a soda doesn’t mean you have to quit. Mistakes happen; instead of using them as an excuse to quit, learn from them and move on.
The Bottom Line
Change is not easy, it’s actually pretty hard. The only thing harder than change is not changing when you are perfectly aware of your problems. Not changing only delays the consequences of your behavior (for example: having a heart attack because of obesity) and keeps you from reaching your true potential.