You’ve set out with determination and focus to follow-through with your New Year’s resolution. That, in and of itself, is an accomplishment – way to go! Now, how will you ensure that you maintain the same motivation and drive that you currently have as the year progresses? Without an answer to this question, your resolution is, well, not a resolution…
Generally speaking, the reason we identify a resolution in the first place is because we want to change a behavior. Whether this be stopping, starting, or altering a behavior, behavior change is inherent in the resolution/goal from the beginning. However, there is superficial change and there is transformational change. Superficial change is not self-motivated. Maybe someone (or something) else has pointed out that they believe you should make a change in your behavior; the idea did not come from you (and it should!). Transformational change, on the contrary, is lasting, sustainable change occurring at a much deeper, personal level. It is commitment: the act of binding yourself—emotionally or intellectually—to a course of action.
It is crucial that this commitment is not only a plan for change, but that this commitment is a decision to change. The decision is to commit to a plan of action, NOT the other way around (the commitment is the decision on a plan of action). One can easily make a plan for change thinking that it will naturally come to fruition without putting in the time and work and commitment to act on that plan. Yes, that’s right. A New Year’s resolution, or any goal for that matter, takes time and work and commitment.
Here are a few ways to keep yourself accountable to put in that time and work and act on that commitment:
1. Build a support network.
Tell friends and family and coworkers (heck, tell your dog!) what behavior(s) you are aiming to change. Ask that they help to hold you accountable by occasionally checking in with you. Be sure to use the S.M.A.R.T. format to outline how you are measuring your achievement.
2. Seize the right to share.
When someone asks you “How are you doing?” take it as an opportunity (if the time is appropriate, of course) to share honestly how you are working towards your resolution. Maybe that person can relate, and you can build them into your support network.
3. Check-in on your S.M.A.R.T. objectives.
How are these parameters working or not working for you? Maybe you need to rework your goal to be a bit more relevant or realistic. Perhaps shifting your time measurement parameters might help you feel more successful. Rework your resolution to work for you!
4. Reward yourself.
Be careful here; there are good rewards and bad rewards. For example, if you are aiming to save $10 per week by buying store-brand rather than name-brand items at the grocery store, a good reward would not be to splurge on a “sweet treat” item you wouldn’t normally get (for me, it’s spice drops!). A good reward might be investing that money into a fund that grows over time. A reward that keeps rewarding!
It’s true that your resolution is yours and only yours, but you don’t have to, and shouldn’t expect to, do it completely solo. Set yourself up for success by first holding yourself accountable by deciding to commit to your New Year’s resolution. This is your foundation, the roots from which you may build and grow and change. There are other trees in the forest to support you, too, and lots of nutrients in the ground in which you’re rooted…