January 1st, 2010
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Happy New Year

It’s that time of year again! After a couple of weeks of turkey and TV, it’s time to look forward to the year ahead and think about how we intend to improve ourselves and our lives over the coming year. Every year millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions to change personal behaviours, kick habits and realize dreams. But every year, after less than 60 days, most people have surrendered to the world, admitted defeat and put it off until next year.

Whether you aim to stop smoking, exercise more, lose weight or just simply enjoy life more, in this article, I’d like to share with you some killer techniques I’ve gathered over the years on first, how to make a New Year’s Resolution and second, how to maximize your chances of keeping it.

How To Make A New Year’s Resolution

Step #1: Identify Desired Changes

A lot of people ask themselves the question, “What should my New Year’s Resolution be?” and come up with an answer. But often, this is an answer for the sake of an answer. It’s not a “proper” New Year’s resolution. It is not something they really want to change about themselves.

Instead, try asking the question, “This timen next year, what is the single most valuable improvement I could hope to see in myself and my life?” This is a much more meaningful question because it focuses on a desired result rather than {a process or an instant answer}. You may have to search harder to find the answer to this question, but when you find it, a hundred to one, it’s a better answer than the answer to the first question.

Step #2: Be Very Specific About Your Goal

The most specific you are, the greater are your chances of success. For example, lose weight is a goal that is doomed to fail because it is too vague. How much weight? Theoretically, with the goal “lose weight”, I could go take a dump and declare I had achieved my goal – I’ll inevitably weigh less when I get off the toilet than I did when I sat down.

There are a few rules to being specific…

Quantify… make the goal measurable. E.g. “lose 4 stones” is better than “lose weight”

Set a deadline… the chances are that you want to see results before December 2010, so set a deadline. E.g. by 1st May 2010

Specify how achieving the goal will improve your life. What will you be able to do that you can’t do now?

Set Rules: Figure out some of the steps you will need to take to achieve your goal. What do you need to do to make it happen?

Step #3. Record and Document

Where self improvement is concerned, it is always better to write things down. Then you have a record of what you decided and when you decided it. Stick the paper somewhere obvious, like on top of your computer screen on on your fridge door. Write it like a contract…

“I, [Your Name Here], do hereby promise to meet the goal of… losing 5 stones in weight [or whatever your goal is] by … May 2010 [whenever your deadline is]… in time for …. summer …. so that… I can fit into my wedding dress in time for my wedding [whatever your pay off is].”

In order to do this, I am bound by the following rules…

  1. I will not eat any cake, chocolate, curry or fried food on any day except Friday
  2. I will run 5 miles on the treadmill every day.
  3. I will always start this at 9 o clock PM. This is my treadmill time and I must not fill it with anything else.

Do you see the level of detail there? I have specified outlawed foods, quantified how far I have to run every day on the treadmill and I have specified an exact time every day at which I must be on the treadmill. This way I have no escape from it. If you allow room in your contract for you to make choices later, then obviously, when you don’t feel as committed as you did when you wrote the contract, you’ll find loop holes and ways around abiding by the contract.

A word of advice about rules: Set as many as you need to, but as few as you possibly can. The fewer rules you set, the less chance you have of breaking them.

Step #4. Create Leverage: An Army of Naggers

Give a copy of this contract to as many of your friends and family as you dare.

If you are lucky enough to have somebody in your life who will nag you about it, make sure you give the contract to them and explain the importance of it. Sooner or later, they’re all going to ask you how it’s going and because you’re not trying to achieve your goal in secret, it’s much less likely you can give up without some sort of inquisition by your family and friends.

Step #5: Sticking To It All

In most cases, whether your resolution is to lose weight, stop smoking, learn the guitar, increase your income, you are essentially trying to create a habit. You are trying to make sure you carry out the behaviours set out in step 2.

The first 18-28 days will be the hardest. If you can be extra vigillant and really obsessive for the first month, your chances of success are high. Because after 28 days of repetition, the new behaviours should have built themselves into your routine and you will naturally do them without having to force yourself.

When you feel like giving up, imagine the pay off you desire as vividly as you possibly can and remind yourself how much you want it. Review your contract if necessary.

In Closing…

So there you have it. I have had a great degree of success with these techniques. Literally and genuinely they have changed my life and by applying them I have achieved quite a few things that I would probably never have done; and definitely never have done so quickly as I have. I wish you all the very best of luck with using them to improve yourself and your life.

I wish all my readers a happy, prosperous, peaceful, successful and healthy 2010.

Thank you for reading.

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