It is almost the new year and many of us are starting to feel the pressure of listing their resolutions for making change. Yet in the back of our minds we see year after year of good intentions not quite make it to reality. In fact, it is estimated the only around 40% of us actually reach our goals for the new year. So what is the solution to success when it comes to achieving our goals and sticking to our plans?

Well whatever your goals are (and whenever you make them or start them), here are the keys to making them stick:

1. Determine how ready you are to actually make a change
Sometimes, the pressure to do something can push people to set a goal before they are really ready to commit. Although the initial motivation is there, continuing that motivation through the details and work involved in reaching the goal may seem like too much. Running a marathon this year sounds like a great goal, but if you don’t want to find the time to train you are only setting yourself up for failure. The same concept goes for weight loss, you want to lose the weight but if you aren’t ready to commit to making changes your goal isn’t appropriate right now.

Because change doesn’t actually happen overnight, a more reasonable solution may be to set a goal to spend the month of January researching what needs to be done to lose weight or train for a marathon. This allows you fully understand what is involved and set a plan that you are willing to follow through with.

2. Don’t just do it, Know YOU Can Do It
With change comes that voice in the back of our minds telling us we can’t do it, we won’t make it, this will never work. However, if you are constantly at war with this voice you may start to believe it and quit early. Change takes confidence, that yes, you can do it.

Talk back to your negative thoughts by listing all the reasons you can reach your goal. When the doubt sets in, read the list, affirm your strength and take back your confidence. It is also helpful to replace those negative thoughts with productive and helpful mantras like, “I can do this one step at a time” or “I am worth this.”

3. Turn Setbacks into Learning Moments
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

When you make a behavioral change, you are trying something new; which means you’re probably going to have at least one or two setbacks. You may skip a few workouts, grab an unhealthy takeout meal, or give in to eating the snacks in the break room. Realize it really is okay to mess up from time to time, because the way you respond to these setbacks can change your likelihood of reaching your goals.

Sometimes success is seen as black and white – you did it or you failed. When you view a setback as a failure, you miss the chance to learn from your mistake. Maybe you skipped the gym because there was no way you were waking up an hour early; you didn’t fail if you make it a learning moment. What are your other options? You could hit the gym at lunch or after work. You could try going to sleep earlier to make an early morning easier. When you can view your setbacks as something to anticipate or make adjustments for you increase your chances of long term success.

4. Don’t Only Focus on Your End Goal
Often times, it is easy to become fixated on your end goal; lose 10 pounds, quit smoking, run a marathon. Although goals are important, particularly when they are SMART goals, you need to remember that it is impossible to reach your goal without the stuff that comes first.

For any goal, you have to set stepping stones. Most of us can’t wake up one morning and run a marathon without any training at all. And you can’t expect to lose weight without making any changes to your behavior. Set and commit to small steps that you know you can accomplish. As you reach each step, celebrate and build your confidence. With each step you can look back and realize you have made progress even if you haven’t reached your end goal yet.

As the pressure builds for you to select a new year’s resolution, remember resolutions should be solutions – not simply something you tell yourself would be nice to try. This year make it about creating a new you that you are ready for, know that you can do this, be open and learn from your mistakes and don’t forget to set yourself up for success with a plan to reach your end goal.

Best Wishes!

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