Happy New Year!

You know what I love about a New Year? I love that it is a great chance to look ahead with wonder and possibility thinking! What will the New Year bring?

Well, what do you want it to bring?

A lot of people make resolutions around this time of year. They consciously decide to make a change they want. But a key part of making a resolution stick is a derivative of the word – resolve! As a noun, resolve means ‘firm determination to do something.’

So why do we lose our resolve, and what can we do to keep it? Here are 5 strategies to stay focused on your goal:

1. Examine your ‘why’

What is really driving you to want this change? If your reason to make it is not powerful enough, you will quickly lose your resolve.  You will, instead, let barriers and challenges block you versus look at ways you can overcome them.

An internal ‘why’ is much more powerful than an external one. If someone else wants you to change, that is not a strong reason to do so. External motivation is usually short term – the need to change has got to be recognized by you and desired by you.

But even if you want to change, you still need to ask yourself the reasons why. And you need to ask yourself the reasons ‘why not?’ Because we often have lots of reasons NOT to change that will counteract our reasons to do so. Be completely honest with yourself. Is this change worth it?

Try this:  See yourself after making the change – close your eyes if you want and actually picture yourself as if the change already happened. Does it excite you? Drive you? Motivate you? If so, try to capture that feeling and come back to it as you go for your goal and meet challenges.

However, if the picture in your mind is not that exciting or you’re just focusing on all the work to get there, then it could be that your ‘why’ is not strong enough. What can you do to make it stronger?

2. Forgive Others & Yourself

Let’s be honest. You will have setbacks. Some of them imposed by others, and some of them self-imposed. The key is to expect them. Know that paths to a goal are rarely in a straight line. There are curves along the way – and curve balls – and sometimes, even pushes backwards.

Learn to forgive others who put barriers in your way. Often they are not intentional, and even if they are, forgive anyway. And learn to forgive yourself for missteps. You are human (I have not yet met a totally logical Vulcan) – and humans make mistakes and missteps. This is the time to forgive and move o

3. Take Baby Steps

Often we lose our resolve because we try to change too much at once. And then we are disappointed in ourselves because we can’t. So we just give up.

If we focus on baby steps, however, we are more likely to stick with our goals and succeed.

I love the acronym S.M.A.R.T. goals. There are different definitions for it, but one that appeals to me is Specifc, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Related.   When I think about baby steps, I think about being Achievable and Realistic. Is it achievable and realistic to shed 50 pounds in a week? No. To gain 25 new consulting clients in 2 weeks? Doubtful. To totally heal a strained work relationship after just one conversation? Probably not.

But you can take baby steps toward any of these goals. What can you do today, tomorrow, the next day, the next week and months to move forward?

4. Watch out for your Fear of Missing Out

Taking steps to reach a goal typically involves a four-letter word. It’s called WORK. And when you work towards a goal, you often feel that you are missing out on FUN. Or missing out on relaxation. Or missing out on staying in your comfort zone. Or missing out on…well, you fill in the blank.

We don’t like to miss out. Often the reasons we backslide are because we don’t want to miss out. That chocolate cake just looks too good, so we put our goal for better health aside. We want a promotion at work – and the rewards that come with it – but that may take us off a project team we really like. We may say our goal is to have fewer, but higher paying clients, but then we really like the relationships we’ve built with some of our current lower paying clients and don’t want to lose them. We don’t want to miss out on the relationships we built.

The Fear of Missing Out often causes us to sabotage our resolve. So make sure you face it head on and realize that if you DON’T go for your goal, you will be missing out on achieving it!

5. Counter your Rationalizations for Quitting

We love to rationalize why we’ve stopped making progress toward our goals. Too time consuming, too challenging, too expensive, too tiring, too disappointing, or maybe too intense. We are masters at saying why it is no longer worth ‘going for it.’

So try this when you start to rationalize. Fill in this blank:

If I don’t reach this goal, I will feel _________________.

Was your answer a positive one? If so, then maybe this was not the right goal for you.

But if you did not fill in the blank with something positive like: ‘terrific, great, accomplished, proud of myself’ or something to that affect, then go back and figure out how to get back on track so you CAN feel positive – positive in the fact that you are still taking steps towards your goal.

You don’t have to lose your resolve. You can choose to stay focused, take it step by step, overcome barriers and make your resolution stick!

Wishing you a lifetime of great choices!

Denise

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