New Year's Resolutions: Failure is not an option

Each year, some 75% of us fail in our New Year's resolution after just nine days. Kevin Chapman, partner at business coaching consultancy Tinder-Box, has these tips for stiffening your resolve.

by Kevin Chapman
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

It is New Year’s resolution time again and don’t you get that déjà vu feeling? The idea of changing something in your life, such as giving up smoking or drinking, getting fit or changing jobs and starting it on the 1st of January is pretty enticing. However, let’s face it, whatever your resolution, when it comes to sticking to it, the odds are against you.

Here are my recommended six steps to improve your chances in 2013:

1.      Be clear

Make sure you are clear about what your goal is. 'Being a better person' is not specific enough – you need to know what are the critical behaviours that will lead to your goal.
2.      Be positive 

Frame your resolution in positive terms. So say what you want, rather than what you don’t want. And add benefits. So a goal of 'giving up drinking' might become 'living healthily in the week and sleeping better'

3.      Double your chances of success

You are twice as likely to achieve your goal if you write it down on a piece of paper. Twice as likely again to achieve it if you share it with someone. And twice again if you ask that person to hold you to account. So find a buddy and increase your chance of success by 800%. Don’t forget to return the favour.

4.      Be clear about what might knock you off track

You know yourself pretty well so think about what might trip you up or perhaps consider who might derail you. Often you can be sabotaged by friends or family who secretly want you to fail so they don’t feel like failures themselves. Avoid them!

5.      Learn to be distracted

In some of the most famous psychological experiments it has been proven that 'will power' is not what keeps people away from temptation. It is actually the skill of distraction. So at that moment when you are tempted to break your resolution, simply find a way of distracting yourself from that moment. This gives your brain a chance to switch modes from 'immediate fulfilment' to 'considered choice'.
6.      Celebrate success

Take time to acknowledge what you have done and the skill that this has taken.

Have a happy new year!

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