It’s a brand new year and with it come new resolutions and ambitions. Resolutions, you hope, that will lead a new and improved you. Free of some of your worst habits, healthier, more relaxed, more present and more organized, you’ll be able to save more, stress less, and feel better. Everyone has a list, and why not? Making a resolution is well intentioned, and shows hope and anticipation for what’s coming.
That is until you fail. Chances are you’re still feeling the sting of last year’s defeat. You’re beating yourself up over being too busy, a string of bad luck, or procrastinating too much. You may have made a mistake here or indulged too much there. And if you had only done this or that, things would have been different!
Stop regretting the past and look to the future. It’s time to start achieving those resolutions once and for all, and with a little help from 123 Dentist it’ll be a breeze.
Step 1 – Identify What Really Matters
The list we make for ourselves every year is a long one. Whether we’re too ambitious, too critical, or just have trouble narrowing it down, it doesn’t take much to come up with a list longer than this post chock full of things to improve upon. The first trick to achieving what you want is eliminating all barriers to success. The items on that list are at war with each other. They will jockey for your attention until nothing gets done and you are left stressing out over everything you missed. And avoiding stress was probably one of the items on your list in the first place, so ask yourself what really matters. It’s a good idea to prioritize mental & physical health and improving close relationships over travel or purchases, for instance. Start at the core and the rest will come.
Step 2 – Choose Realistic Resolutions
Narrow down your resolutions to the top three most important ones, based on their achievability. If you’re not sure what they are, ask a close friend or your partner for advice. Once you know your top three, place those in order based on how realistic they are.
Say you have chosen some form of exercise commitment along with quitting a habit and taking a class to learn a new skill or hobby. Quitting the habit might help make exercise easier, or the exercise might help you lift the habit. Chances are the class won’t help you accomplish either of the first two, and it doesn’t have the same priority as your health. On the other hand it might be crucial to relieving stress or might involve exercise, so prioritize your resolutions accordingly. When in doubt, put resolutions that involve a routine at the top of the list, they will help you form the backbone of discipline you need to see the others through.
Step 3 – Avoid Being Vague
If you choose a resolution, be specific. Good intentions don’t necessarily lead to good results and you need to home in on what you really want to achieve. Resolving to be more healthy is not specific. Did you mean mentally and physically? Did you mean changing your diet or exercising more? Narrow it down in two steps. First narrow down the resolution to a specific result, like losing a certain amount of weight. Second, narrow it down further by choosing a specific action to achieve that goal. The resolution therefore evolves from ‘be more healthy’ to ‘lose some weight’ and finally becomes ‘lose 20 pounds by eating X number of calories per day.’ Similarly, avoid ‘learning a new skill’ and instead ‘take a cooking class at the local community centre.’ Your resolution is already closer to being reality.
Step 4 – Set Achievable Goals
It might seem obvious, but don’t set lofty goals. It happens more often than you think. We get high on life celebrating the holidays and suddenly we think we’re invincible. Losing 30 pounds through exercise and diet mutates into being toned like a movie star in 6 months and just like that the goal moves into Mission: Impossible territory. It’s important to be optimistic, but leaning towards realism is crucial to long term success. If you really want that killer bod, set separate goals for eating better and exercising regularly and achieve those first.
Step 5 – Make a Schedule
Sit down and put your resolutions on paper. Don’t let them float around in the ether. Put them in your calendar and set reminders and daily alarms. Work your way backwards from your final goal and set smaller, more achievable tasks. This is easy when it comes to taking up an activity, and you can help yourself by making smaller sub-tasks into specific items with their own deadlines. It’s easy to get derailed before you start, so reminders and due dates help you to stay focused. Try to keep your schedule flexible. You need to be able to change things up when life gets in the way. If your regular weekly routine gets interrupted, have a contingency plan ready.
Step 6 – Make It Public
Keeping your resolution secret is a bad idea. It may be an indication that you may doubt your ability to achieve it, and ensures that the only person who can be let down is you. Bringing in friends and family, and perhaps even coworkers, forces you to take accountability. It doesn’t work with every resolution, of course; some goals are private for a reason. For the ones that aren’t too personal, bite the bullet and get them out into the open. Your friends are going to be able to support you better if they know what you’re doing, and might hold off ordering that pizza around you. Which brings us to the next tip…
Step 7 – Partner Up
Going into any fight alone is dangerous, and if you want to achieve your resolution you’re going to need company. Enlist a close friend, your partner, co-worker or family member to join you. It’s especially helpful if you find someone with a similar goal. Hint: if you’re not close enough to this person to know whether they have the same goal, they may not be the strongest choice. Making resolutions is serious business, so you’ll want to find someone serious to join you. Keeping each other honest is a great way to stick to a schedule. There is a downside though: if one of you falters, and you don’t get back on track quickly, it could affect your own progress. Sit down with your resolution buddy and make sure you both understand and are fully committed to every part of the plan. Partnering up is especially useful if you’re attempting a resolution that is particularly difficult in social settings. For instance, cutting out certain foods at home is very difficult if your real life partner doesn’t join you.
Step 8 – Address Possible Failures
To carry out any good plan, you need to look at all the possible outcomes, both good and bad. Face the facts. If you approach your resolution as automatic wish fulfilment, then you may be setting yourself up for failure. Take the time to sit down with your resolution partner and identify all the things that could go wrong with each resolution you’re serious about achieving. Work your way backwards from each problem and build barriers to fortify against weaknesses. If you want to cut out fast food, what alternatives are you going to turn to when you are running late? Whatever it is, planning for failure is your best chance at achieving success.
Step 9 – Raise the Stakes
It’s an oldie, but a goody, that there’s nothing wrong with rewarding good behaviour. If you’ve gone public, it’s a fine idea to set a reward for successful completion of one of your resolutions. If your resolution involves cutting back on any expense, you can add the savings each week to an account which is held by someone trustworthy. For higher stakes, consider punishing yourself for failure. This one is a little bit tricky because if your goal is not achievable and not planned out adequately, you risk increasing your stress and losing more ground than you gained. Make sure that if you choose to punish yourself for failure, you have an achievable goal with a well thought-out plan using all the advice above. Once you do, maybe you can afford to gamble that reward money and offer it up to charity if you fail. You could make a pact with your resolution partner to agree to split the reward if you achieve the goal together, or to agree to a winner-takes-all approach. If teamwork is more your speed, you could opt for an all-or-nothing style which would induce each partner to help one another.
Step 10 – Don’t Give Up
Your resolutions are made out of hope. While it’s important to be pragmatic in your plan for success, never forget that hope. Belief is a powerful thing, and believing you can achieve your goal is the single most important step to reaching it. Stay positive, stay focused, and think about the results you are waiting for when you feel like you’re losing the thread. Stay honest and don’t give in to temptations. What’s more, if you do give in, don’t let it stop you. Everyone trips, sometimes we fall. The trick to succeeding is finding a way to get back up and keep on moving forward. Before you know it, that resolution will be routine and that routine will become a new habit.
Bonus Tip – Make Dental Care Your Resolution
Previously, 123 Dentist wrote about how you can make dental care your newest resolution. We looked at why you should make a brighter, healthier smile your goal, and also how to achieve that goal in a manner which won’t break the bank. Take a look at the blog if you need inspiration for a new resolution, and talk to 123 Dentist today about customized treatment options to suit your needs and schedule. Good luck in the new year!