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12 Ways To Make Sure Your New Year’s Resolution Sticks

12 Ways To Make Sure Your New Year’s Resolution Sticks

With the season of New Year’s resolutions upon us, there is one thing likely to be troubling many—if not all—of us. How do we make them stick? Below I have compiled 12 ways that will help you make sure your resolution doesn’t fade to gray on the 3rd of January.

1. Prepare In Advance

Just because it’s called a “New Year’s” resolution doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing right now. Don’t just announce something at a party 15 seconds before you welcome the New Year, decide on which goal to pursue in advance and start getting into the specifics.

2. Start Small

Don’t get overwhelmed by the need to “go big” because of the occasion. Be smart, start small. When you get a better feel for what is manageable for you, you can gradually increase the difficulty and commitment.

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3. Make A Detailed Action Plan

There’s no need to outline every second, just get the daily and weekly plans and goals down so you have something to work on. The best kind of plan, and only one that truly works, is the one that gets improved as you go along. If your goal is to quit excessive drinking or smoking, instead of outlining the daily actions, you can focus on things to do when you feel completely overwhelmed by the need to have a drink or smoke.

4. Turn It Into A Habit

Imagine this scenario, you wake up, wash your face, brush your teeth and then spend the next 30 minutes working towards your goal. Face unblinking, not even thinking about what you are doing because it has become second nature. This is probably the ultimate dream for anyone who has a goal. The way to get there is daily commitment.

Aim to set aside exactly the same time every day for working towards your goal. Try to never have a day where you do absolutely nothing. That can often lead to doubts and eventually giving up. For people who want to quit a particular habit, a good idea can often be to find a healthier replacement. When you would usually go out for a smoke, you can try to meditate, or drink ice cold water, or do a mini-tea ceremony.

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5. Don’t Tell People Too Soon, But When It’s Time, Shout It From The Tree Tops

One study shows that by announcing your goals while they are still vague, you create a false sense of accomplishment, and because they are too vague to follow through on in a comprehensive manner, nothing happens. In another study, where the goals were very specific, telling other people boosted the success rate significantly. So, while it’s important to leverage social accountability, don’t rush it. I know it can be exciting, but you should use that energy towards your goal, not towards telling other people about it.

6. Track Your Progress

First of all this is can be a way to determine what it is you are doing that has the largest effect. If you’re a believer in the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule), 20% of your actions are responsible for 80% of the results. That means that some of what you do is likely superfluous. So, if you track your progress, you can for example focus on different things and see what yields the best results, and then trim the fat. This is also a way to reinforce the fact that you are actually on your way to succeeding. And the longer you succeed, the harder it will be to suddenly give up.

7. Focus On The Positive

Perspective has a lot to do with how we experience our daily lives. If you choose to focus on the negative, you are much more likely to give up than if you manage to always focus on the progress you do make, instead of the set backs. Even if you’re usually a Negative Nancy, you can trick yourself into becoming more positive by always making a big deal out of progress. Handwriting huge check marks next to every day you managed to stick to your goals, or mini-celebrating every minor milestone can be reminders to keep your focus where it should be.

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8. Be Careful When You Reward Yourself

A study has shown that focusing too much on progress can tempt people to be counterproductive. This seems to mainly be a problem with people whose aim is to lose weight. After making progress they would have a tendency to reward themselves with unhealthy foods, whereas rewarding yourself with a drink after staying sober seems a bit too obviously counter productive.

The problem with not acknowledging your progress is that you will lose steam, possibly even giving up in the long run. So, celebrate your victories, but be careful that it’s not too counter productive. If you’re losing weight, try rewarding yourself with your favorite things besides food: maybe a warm bath and some classical music, your favorite hobby, hanging out with friends, or watching a great movie.

9. Partner With Someone

Other than allowing you to escape the dreadful feeling of challenging something completely alone, there is another aspect to partnering. You can keep each other in check. When you’re attempting something on your own, it’s easy to be lenient and give yourself days off for no reason. But a partner will see through that bull, and keep you on your toes, always moving forward. Of course, if you notice that he or she is becoming a bad influence, try to distance yourself as much as possible. And if he or she is doing better than you, don’t let that demotivate you. Awaken your competitive instincts and catch up!

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10. Try Stickk

Recent studies have shown that people who have a money incentive lose more weight than those who don’t. And people have a tendency to prefer avoiding losses rather than the potential for making money. So, rather than promising yourself a treat if you succeed, you could try Stickk. Stickk is a website where you end up giving money to a charity you disagree with if you should fail. Of course, how motivating this is depends on the amount of money you choose to commit, as there is no standard amount. If you succeed, you get your money back to do with whatever you want.

11. Truly Believe You Can Do It

Many of you would argue that this should be the first step, but that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve seen people with no faith going through the motions, seeing some progress and then finally believing it was possible. In fact, I’ve been one of them as well. Once you reach a point where you find yourself thinking, “Wow, I can really do this!” then it’s a lot easier to leverage that belief to commit harder to the goal you have set for yourself. That’s the reason why we start small and work our way up, instead of starting out failing and confirming doubts we had about our ability to push through.

12. Even If You Fail Once, Keep Going

It’s the second you admit failure and throw in the towel that you fail, and not a second before. It doesn’t matter if you caved and smoked one cigarette, as long as you get back on track. Never make a big deal about a small failure, it can really mess with your mojo. I remember one time I caved and ate unhealthy food for one day and I almost completely gave up the idea of losing weight, defaulting into my old thinking where I would blame genetics and fate. There is still plenty of time left in the New Year. Don’t let your commitment go to waste by giving up early.

More by this author

Ragnar Miljeteig

Ragnar is a passionate writer who blogs about personal development at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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