10 TACTICS TO ACTUALLY ACHIEVE YOUR 2021 RESOLUTIONS
Given you’re reading this blog, it’s very likely that you’re among the roughly 50% of people who have set some goals or resolutions for 2021. Many of us are certainly hoping to manifest a very different year ahead than the one just gone! What better topic then, for my first blog of the new year.
Here’s the bad news; depending on what study you read, somewhere between 80% to 92% of all new year’s resolutions fail. In light of these statistics, you may feel that it’s hardly worth your while to try and change well-worn behaviors or introduce new habits.
Dig a little deeper, however, and there are multiple proven tools and tactics that can almost guarantee your success. After all, at least 8% of people have figured it out and it’s unlikely that they’re any more intelligent or motivated than you are.
The 10 tactics below represent an almost foolproof methodology to turn your hopes into habits, intentions into impact, and beliefs into sustainable behaviors. I’ve used ‘R’ alliteration to make it easier to remember (and also because I’m a consultant, obviously).
The 10 tactics will work for any personal or professional resolutions you have in 2021. To bring them to life in this blog, I’ll use the example of the most frequently articulated new year’s resolution of all, which is some version of “to become healthier.”
1. Articulate your Reasons
List out all of the reasons you want to make a change; both the benefits if you succeed and consequences if you fail. Your ‘why’ is the most important part of how you achieve anything, so the bigger your ‘why’, the better your chances.
For example; you may want to get healthier to be able to play in the park with your kids or grandkids; to be around for your child’s wedding; to be able to travel the world; to avoid another serious health scare; to reduce the chances of chronic disease; to decrease the prohibitive cost of your healthcare. It should feel like the stakes are pretty high.
2. Use a Ramp
If your desired change feels too big relative to your start point, chances are that you will give up before you even begin. Make it really easy to get started by using a metaphorical ‘ramp’. Start with very small increments of change and increase the degree of challenge over time.
For example; start by going for a walk just once a week; run for 5 minutes a day; swim one lap of the pool; have one meat-free day a week; meditate for 3 minutes each morning; go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Successfully making even the smallest changes will not only encourage you to keep going, but will also feed your sense of self-esteem, which is even more important in the long run.
3. Reorganize your environment
Ensure the environment around you supports your desired change. Eliminate anything that could undermine you and introduce anything that could bolster you.
For example; remove processed foods from your fridge and pantry and fill them instead with whole foods and healthy snacks; set up a space to exercise or meditate; download free fitness videos from YouTube that don’t require equipment; take the TV out of the bedroom; put a good non-fiction book on your bedside table. Your aim is to make it really easy to win, so take some time to set yourself up for success.
4. Recruit a buddy
Enlist a partner in your quest to make change. You’re much less likely to let someone else down, than you are to let yourself down.
For example; if you can afford it, recruit a personal trainer or coach; join a class with others engaged in the same activity; buddy up with a partner who has similar goals; meet a friend for coffee once a week to report on your progress. Accountability is a burden best shared, so find someone or some group of like-minded people to share it with you.
5. Use Reminders
Use visual prompts, cues and reminders; both electronic and analogue, to interrupt old patterns and encourage new ones. The more you ‘see’ the change you want, the more likely you are to realize it.
For example; print out your goals, along with any quotes or images that inspire you and place them around your house, office and on your screen saver; set a recurring reminder on your phone to move or meditate at regular intervals; play a song that you love at the start of each day; hang the pair of jeans you want to get back into in front of your closet; write some key words at the top of your notepad. The aim is to bring your intentions into your conscious realm, until they become a habit.
6. Establish a Rhythm
Set up a cadence to reflect on your progress at regular intervals, such as weekly. Schedule it in your diary and keep the appointment no matter what. Involve others where you can.
For example; schedule five minutes for a quick check in at the end of each day; set aside 30 minutes for deeper reflection on your progress every Sunday night; if you have a buddy, schedule a coffee meeting or Zoom call at regular intervals; if you have a trainer or coach, schedule an evaluation once a month. Knowing that you have that time in your diary, especially if it’s with a ‘buddy’, will encourage you to stay on track.
7. Track your Results
Build a spreadsheet to track any numeric indicator of progress. Update it regularly and use it to set new targets.
For example; measure any number of physical health indicators like weight, BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol; track the amount of time spent sleeping, exercising or meditating; record the load, repetitions and sets for a particular exercise; track calories consumed in a given time period; record the number of days without alcohol or smoking. There is a good reason why “what gets measured gets done” is a cliché; it works
8. Leverage Rewards
Use incentives and disincentives to encourage your desired change. Even small rewards, or penalties, can have a significant impact.
For example; schedule a ‘cheat day’ or ‘cheat meal’ each week; commit to buy yourself something special for achieving a significant outcome; link a certain milestone to a memorable experience, such as an island holiday; agree to buy yourself new clothes when you reach your goal; set up a competition with your buddy; commit to donate a significant sum of money to a political party that you hate, if you fail. Whatever incentive or disincentive generates the most emotion for you, go with that.
9. Follow Role Models
Surround yourself; physically or metaphorically, with those who inspire, encourage and support your desired change.
For example; engage a mentor who can help you succeed; if you can afford it, enlist a coach who’s already made the changes you seek; listen to podcasts or read books from experts in the field; watch videos or documentaries of those who inspire you; follow the people you admire on social media. It’s never been easier, at least in spirit, to surround yourself with role models to support your journey.
10. Repeat, repeat, repeat
Stay consistent in your daily schedule of activities, habits, rituals and routines. The more constant your behavior, the more likely your desired change will stick.
For example; rotate just two or three options for breakfast and lunch (we waste enormous amounts of time thinking about what to eat, only to end up eating the same things anyway); eat at similar times each day; go to bed and get up at the same time each day; exercise or meditate at similar times of the day. In short, achieving your goal is just a few good habits, repeated every day.
If you’re serious about your goals and resolutions for 2021, then implementing the 10 tactics in this blog can dramatically increase your chances of success. The more of them you put in place, the more likely you are to succeed. I hope you will use all 10 of them to your advantage.
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