How to Keep Your Resolutions – At New Year’s or Any Time of the Year
By Christopher Stone
It’s inherently American to believe that the New Year will be better than the old one. Surveys reveal that one out of three adult Americans – that’s tens of millions of people – make New Year’s Resolutions yearly, mentally, or in writing. Millions more make resolutions at other times of the year. Resolution-makers share more than the desire for a more fulfilling life: they share a need. They need help in keeping their resolutions, and they know it.
Surveys also disclose that by February 1, about 80% of us who have made New Year’s resolutions have already given up on them.
Help is here. If you follow my practical advice, you’ll most likely be among the resolution-makers who succeed.
Making resolutions that are right for you is critical to keeping them. I’m going to explain how to make right resolutions. I’ll reveal two inner resources that will help you to keep your right resolutions. In conclusion, I’ll explain why keeping even a minor resolution can enrich your life, boost self-confidence, and pave the way for even greater success.
There are right resolutions and there are wrong resolutions. What makes a resolution right or wrong depends more upon the resolution-maker than upon the nature of the resolution.
A right resolution is a decision you make to improve your life that is realistic, given your current abilities and level of personal development. A right resolution never harms you, or anyone else.
On the other hand, a wrong resolution is a decision you make to improve your life that is unrealistic; it goes beyond your ability; it may harm you, or someone else.
Here’s an example of a wrong resolution:
Let’s say that you’re a completely closeted gay/lesbian who has told your same gender boyfriend/girlfriend that you’re not gay, but simply bi-curious. Your resolution is to “come out” to friends and family in the New Year. Wrong.
If you’re so closeted that you haven’t even admitted your homosexuality to your gay or lesbian partner, then you’ll undoubtedly fail in “coming out” to your world in general.
For you, a right resolution might be: “I’ll come out to my gay/lesbian partner in the new year.” After you’ve kept that resolution, then consider a resolution to “come out” to family, friends, and co-workers.
Before making any resolution, please ask yourself the following questions.
Answer them honestly, fully, and to the best of your ability:
1. Is the resolution realistic for me? Is it a logical next step in my personal growth, or is it an unrealistic leap?
2. Will keeping the resolution contribute to my health, happiness, and well-being, or will it create feelings of failure, fear, or frustration?
3. Is the resolution safe and sane, or could it cause harm to me, or to someone else?
4. Does the resolution provide for gradual change, or does it demand sudden, drastic action?
5. Does the resolution reflect something I want for myself, or would I be making the resolution primarily to pacify, placate, or please someone else?
6. Is my resolution in line with my personal beliefs, or does it contradict them?
If your answer to one or more of the questions indicates that you’re contemplating a wrong resolution, reject it.
Remember, your strongest personal beliefs coalesce to create your life experiences. If you resolve to be prosperous on the one hand, but, on the other hand, you believe “Money is the root of all evil!” you will fail to keep your prosperity resolution. Don’t resolve to do anything that contradicts your basic beliefs. In this case, you would first need to change the belief that “money is the root of evil” before making a prosperity resolution.
After determining that yours is a right resolution, it’s time to start a Resolutions notebook. Any standard, lined, 8 and 1/2 by 11-inch notebook will do. Many of my students have used Composition Books purchased at a Dollar store. On the cover of your notebook, print Resolutions.
At the top of the first notebook page write your first resolution statement. Sylvia (not her real name), one of my Re-Creating Your Self students, resolved: “I will lose 50-pounds before the New Year ends.” Her resolution was ambitious: Sylvia’s husband is a pastry chef at an elite Venice, California restaurant. What’s more, Sylvia has a world-class sweet tooth and an endless appetite. Nonetheless, she determined that hers was a right resolution.
On the lines below your resolution statement, write a Step Plan for keeping your resolution.
Let’s use Sylvia’s Step Plan as our example:
1. Starting January 1, I’ll eat only one dessert every other day.
2. Beginning February 1, I’ll cut my dessert serving size in half.
3. As of March 1, I’ll substitute a container of yogurt for the high-fat, high calorie snacks I eat between lunch and dinner.
4. No later than May 1, I’ll substitute a two-cup serving of hot cereal for the sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy I eat for breakfast.
5. By implementing Steps 1-4, I’ll lose at least 50 pounds before the year ends.
Note that Sylvia’s plan allows for gradual change; it doesn’t require drastic, sudden action.
After you’ve written your first resolution statement in your notebook, and you’ve created a Step Plan for keeping your resolution, proceed to your next resolution, if you have one. Write your second resolution statement atop the notebook’s second page, with your step plan on the lines below.
After you’ve written a resolution statement for each of your resolutions, followed by your Step Plan for keeping each, it’s time to turn within for further help.
Self-love is a powerful inner tool for resolution-keeping. When you love yourself, you will most often keep your resolutions because you believe yourself worthy of achieving your goals. Without self-love, you sabotage your resolutions, believing yourself unworthy.
True self love has nothing to do with conceit, ego, or narcissism. A healthy self love is simply the respectful acknowledgment of your goodness and value.
Summon whatever level of self-love you possess to help you keep your resolutions.
Meditate on your resolution. Relaxed, focused attention is another powerful inner tool for keeping resolutions.
Make yourself comfortable. Relax. Clear your head of distracting thoughts, then turn your resolution statement into a meditation mantra, repeating it silently, repeatedly: For examples, “I will lose 50 pounds before the new year ends,” or, “I will tell my same gender boyfriend/girlfriend that I’m gay, not just bi-curious.” Mentally contemplate each of the steps in your Step Plan, working out your ideas for implementing each step. When you’re ready to end your meditation, return to your day with relaxed, renewed resolve.
If you experience a setback in keeping your resolution, please don’t give up. Acknowledge the setback, then move forward with your Step Plan.
Keeping any resolution creates a blueprint for success that you can use time and time again to improve your life. Any success boosts self-confidence and assists further achievement.
The iconic American success Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing, or believe you can’t, you are right.”
I hope you believe that you can keep your resolutions.