5 Simple Ways To Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions

12/22/2017 12:29 PM ET

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Whether it’s tradition, habit or a nagging thought somewhere deep in our brains, most of us start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions around the holidays. Ultimately, we strive for more happiness in our lives.

I will be happier next year if….

  • I make more money.
  • I change jobs.
  • I lose weight.
  • I fall in love.
  • I have more friends.
  • I get along with people at work.
  • I get in shape.

While on the surface these are all good resolutions, chances are you won’t stick with them for more than a week. Sometimes only for a day.

And guess what? It’s not because your resolutions are unattainable.

They simply aren’t specific enough. OR big enough.

In research for my latest book, From Drift to SHIFT: How Change Can Bring True Meaning & Happiness to Your Work and Life, I tell the true stories of a variety of amazing people who overcame huge challenges and came out on the other side finding what they were meant to do. They also found happiness, the key to a fulfilling and engaging life. They stuck to their ‘resolutions’ along the way in order to achieve personal fulfillment, success and happiness.

Happiness is what we all want most. It is our birthright to have it. But we often deny ourselves the joy of happiness with self-sabotaging talk, which can squash our resolutions.

· I’m not smart enough.

· No one will like my ideas.

· I am not worthy.

· I am not attractive enough.

· I don’t have confidence.

· I have no friends.

· I don’t deserve to be happy.

· I have always struggled.

· Life is hard.

· Work is hard.

· Relationships are hard.

I can go on…

So how do you get to happiness? How do you deliver on your New Year’s Resolutions that you are sure will bring you happiness once and for all?

There are all sorts of services, coaching, books, therapies, retreats, diets, lectures and advice out there that you can access 24/7. The wellness industry has blossomed to $3.7 Trillion. That’s a lot of resources poured into making us feel better about ourselves.

But what if I told you that the answer is simpler than that. You don’t need to load up on resources in order to find your bliss and stick to your resolutions. You only need to do these 5 things.

I have worked with people like you (and companies in the same boat) who are trying to find happiness in their lives, in their cultures and in their growth.

It’s easier than you think.

FIVE WAYS TO STICK TO YOUR RESOLUTIONS THIS YEAR

1. CLARITY/SPECIFICITY: You don’t even have to make any resolutions, which can be a huge sense of relief and start your year happier because you have nothing to prove to anyone, most of all yourself.. But if you do decide to make one or more, make them very specific—what I like to call, The Big Reach.

If you just say, I want to lose weight, it’s a nebulous way of saying nothing really.

What you should be saying is… I want to lose 5 pounds in the next two months, or 30 pounds by September 1st.

In his book FLOW: Living at the Peak of Your Abilities, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, shows us through his research that the more specific the goals, and the more challenging, the more likelihood you will stick to them.

In my work with individuals and companies, I challenge them to set big goals. REALLY BIG. I call this process a MISOGI.

A MISOGI is a challenge you undertake as an individual or company that goes so far outside your comfort zone that you achieve the improbable. In other words, the challenge has to be so big that it has a 50% or greater chance of failure.

Everyone’s MISOGIS are different based on their tolerance for getting way outside their own comfort zone. While my MISOGi might be to make X dollars next year through Keynote Speaking, Workshops and Writing, yours might be to enter into a relationship with a person who has traits that you outline, desire and are very specific. This person is your dream person, not someone you would settle for.

2. SUPPORT AND REFLECTION: The second element of sticking to your resolutions and finding happiness in your achievement is to surround yourself with honest, supportive people who can reflect back to you along the way. When you are struggling, when you feel like giving up, when you have a bad biorhythm day, it is helpful to have a support group. Even one person can deliver positive and uplifting encouragement.

3. TOOLS: Now that you have specifically outlined your New Year’s Resolution (ideally not more than 2), you need to adopt tools in order to help you get there.

I took up tennis late in life (age 43). I was a 3.0 player and was immediately put on the ‘C’ team at the tennis club I joined. I decided that I wanted to become a 4.0 tennis player in one year so that I could play on the ‘A’ team. The chance of this happening was about 20%. No one jumps two levels in a year (3.0, 3.5, 4.0).

In order to stick to my resolution and go for my MISOGI, or my Big Reach, I researched the best tennis instructors in my community and settled on a Pro who had won 4 Grand Slams and a Gold Medal in the Olympics. He was a doubles strategist, but was also obviously a very talented instructor.

If you want to lose 5 pounds by March, what tools can you put in place?

· Sign up for a fun, motivating exercise class at least 3 times a week.

o Barre Method, Orange Theory, CrossFit, etc.

o Work out with others

o Walk for 1.5 hours 3 days a week (or jog for 1 hour)

· Join a specific eating meal program

o Weight watchers, Jenny Craig

· Cut out two items from your diet

o Bread and sugar

o Alcohol and large portions

· Eat less and more often

· Eat a light dinner and eat early

· Reward yourself for each pound with a small portion of one of the items you have given up

These are some specific tools you can put into place to help you lose the 5 pounds.

Whatever your resolution, you need the tools. And then you need to….

4. COMMIT: The best way to commit to your resolution is to set up a daily routine that you follow.

When I chose the tennis instructor, I set up a weekly tennis lesson at the same time each week. I practiced what I learned on my own, with a ball machine and in friendly play with someone better than me who was very supportive.

Guess what? The routine helped me go into auto pilot. I had no stress because my routine was consistent and reliable. I achieved my big reach in one year almost to the day (a few days before, actually).

A few years later, I created another MISOGI and decided that I would get to a 4.5 level in one year. I went through the same routine and added in tournaments. I reached that goal too. I do not want to get to 5.0 because there aren’t many 5.0s in my community to play with. I am now at an elite recreational level and very happy with my achievement.

And even though I am happy with achieving my goal (and you will be too), it was not reaching the goal that brought me happiness, it was…

5. THE JOURNEY: In order to stick to and achieve your New Year’s Resolutions, you have to take joy in the journey. Each step forward brings joy and happiness. Engage in the moment. Live for today, not for the eventual achievement of the goal. That way, if you take a step back, it’s OK, because you understand that life has ebbs and flows. You just get back to your routine.

Some ways to stay in the moment include:

· Positive self-talk

· Meditation

· Affirmations

· Gratitude

· Morning rituals

· Stopping to enjoy the moments throughout your day that give you comfort.

Before you know it you will have achieved your specific resolution, will have had a blast along the way, and will be moving on to your next one.

May 2018 be your most fulfilling, happiest, engaging and successful year yet. Every step of the way.