Three Tips for Succeeding with your New Year’s Resolutions

By: Sara Huddleston

New year, new…you? The dawn of a new year may seem like the perfect time to set goals and strive for bigger results, and it might also set us up for failure. While the percentage of Americans who stick with their New Year’s resolutions for the full year varies by the source, Time indicates it’s about 8% of us who actually follow through on resolutions for the full calendar year. How can you elevate your chances of being in that 8%?

Here are three thoughts to consider as you embark on the new year and set goals for yourself.

  1. Consider WHO you are first.

James Clear’s Atomic Habits provides insight into the power of identity when it comes to changing behaviors. Rather than only thinking about what you want to accomplish (run a marathon, lose weight, win the lottery, etc.), consider what kind of person you would need to be to achieve the desired outcome. What decisions, choices and thoughts would that person need to make or have to support that identity?

You want to run a marathon? Then think like a marathoner. Consider yourself a marathoner already and let your decisions and thoughts follow suit. A marathoner is dedicated to her training schedule – rain or shine. What choices do you need to make to be that person? It becomes less about what you DO and more about WHO you are.

  1. Make it smaller.

It’s alluring to pick the BHAG, or “big, hairy audacious goal,” but upon closer inspection you may notice that the BHAG is a compilation of all the small steps you take. Take for example the person who wants to lose weight. This person may know how many pounds he wants to lose or what he wants the scale to say. That information provides a target for aiming, but no roadmap for the journey to get there. Furthermore, a BHAG is, by nature, kind of scary. Taking it into smaller, more digestible pieces allows you to make progress without getting so overwhelmed that you give up.

Whenever you are having trouble taking the first step, that’s a sign to make the first step smaller.

  1. Track your progress.

There’s a reason “before and after” pictures are compelling – they show you a side-by-side comparison of where you started and where you are now. If you’re only looking at one moment in time, you have a very limited view. It would be like reading one page of a book and trying to make sense of the story.

By taking a beginning measure, whether it’s a number on a scale or a subjective rating of something you want to change, you know how much movement you’ve made toward your desired outcome. The bigger the distance between where you are and where you want to be, the more important it will be to track your progress along the way. Those self-check-in moments can give you the pat on the back or the kick in the pants you need to keep going.

By starting with WHO you are, taking smaller steps and tracking your progress, you’re more likely to be part of that 8% group that sticks with their resolutions for the full year. Imagine who you could become by 2025! Maybe it is a new year AND a new you after all! Happy New Year!

Sara Huddleston is the director of learning and development at The Growth Partnership who previously served for nearly 15 years as the director of human resources for a public accounting firm.

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