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December 29, 2013

Make New Year’s Resolutions that Work!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

If you are like many people, you make a list of resolutions for the New Year—lose weight, exercise regularly, read more…. fill in the blank for yourself.

If you are like many of the people who make resolutions, you find yourself drifting back into your old ways before Valentine’s Day. You have great intentions now, you are determined to do better in the coming year, but something happens, and you find yourself right back where you started.images

Resolutions are about acquiring new habits or shedding old ones. Here are some tips and tools for turning resolutions into results.

  • Prepare to make the change. Tell people about your intention to change this habit or acquire a new one. Find someone who has done it and ask for his or her insights and advice. Do some research online, read books, and listen to audio programs. Announce what you intend to do and find a partner who is like-minded, so you can be accountable to and support each other.
  • Set yourself up for success by reinforcing the new habit. You can do this by identifying and avoiding conditions that contribute to the old habit. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, get rid of the candy jar on your desk, give yourself enough time to eat a nutritious breakfast at home instead of hitting the drive-through, and take a walk during lunch rather than hang out in the lunchroom with your friends.
  • Be disciplined. New habit formation requires discipline, and this is hard for a lot of people. The old way of doing or being is comfortable; the new way is just the opposite. Keep a tally sheet and check off every time you reinforce the new habit and erase a mark when you slip. For example, let’s say you want to exercise 20 minutes a day. Give yourself a check mark for every day you do so. This gives you a visual representation of your progress and commitment. Look at the checkmarks when you are tempted to slip and decide to add just one more check mark instead of taking one away. Most habits can be changed when you stay focused on adding one more check mark rather than take one away.

Habits are not easy to change, but if we want to achieve excellence at work and in life, some habits have to go, and we need to acquire new, more supportive ones.  Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

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