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How To Make Resolutions Stick

How To Make Resolutions Stick

New Years

    I’m not a fan of the traditional New Year’s Resolution. As a rule, they rarely lead to long-term change. Each year millions of people start a diet on January 1, all with the same objective – to lose their (excess) weight and fat forever. Both scientific research and those things behind our eyelids will tell us that (1) most people will maintain their new behaviours for less than a fortnight (some, less than a day!) (2) very few people will lose the desired weight/fat (achieve what they set out to) and (3) even fewer will keep it off (less than two percent).

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    Mastering the Mind

    Do these people actually have the potential to lose the weight and keep it off? The vast majority, yes. Will they? Probably not. Why not? A range of reasons, but the common denominator is that in some way their psychology will get in the way of (limit, handicap, sabotage) their physiology. They simply stop doing what they started. Great at starting, crap at persevering and ultimately getting the job done. Their mind is the problem and their body is the consequence.

    For many of us, the external is merely a reflection of the internal. This is the point of the lesson where you can be enlightened or offended; it’s your choice. For the majority, obesity is a symptom (physical consequence) of underlying emotional and psychological issues. Master the mind and you’ll master the body. In order to create different, we need to do different, yet far too many of us are creatures of habit and repetition. If we take the same mindset into the weight-loss process (the one that didn’t work the last fifty times), then we’ll produce the same result; failure.

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    Not Just Another Resolution

    If your goal is to change your behaviour for a week or three, lose and regain some weight, get even more frustrated than you are now and to continue on with the stop-start cycle you’ve been on for years, then another traditional New Year’s Resolution is exactly what you need. However, if you would like your next weight-loss (health/fitness/lifestyle/diet) resolution to be your last, you might want to pay attention to (and implement) the following advice:

    1. Don’t try to change fifty things at once. The more things you try to change in a short time frame, the less likely you are to change anything over the long term. Life ain’t a hundred metre sprint and changing your life (body, thinking, habits, diet) ain’t a two week process. Pace yourself and don’t try to undo ten (twenty, thirty, forty) years of less-than-desirable habits, behaviours and results by next Tuesday.

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    2. Don’t make stupid resolutions. Blokes are champions of the ridiculous. Stop letting your big fat ego get in the way of your brain. Set goals which are logical, practical and maintainable. Not everything is a competition, not everything needs to be hard core to be effective and sometimes what you need to do (to create forever results) will not be what you want to do.

    3. Create an accountability system. Once the excitement, the motivation and the initial momentum subside (and they will), what will keep you doing what you need to do, to create the change you want to see in your world? What will keep you committed and proactive while others are throwing in the towel? Why will it be different for you this time? Why will this be your last resolution (of this kind)? If you don’t know, you better find out fast.

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    4. Remember what you did last time? Don’t do that again!! Same produces same. Yes we are creatures of habit and repetition; we do what’s comfortable and familiar – even when it doesn’t work. Don’t do what’s comfortable, do what works.

    5. Work in four week blocks. Here’s my practical tip for the day. In my experience (working with people to change outcomes in their world), the four week time frame is long enough to produce significant practical change but also short enough for us to stay focused, motivated and in the game emotionally. Of course we’re all about creating big picture results and long-term change but breaking the big process down into a series of twenty eight day game plans seems to work for most people.

    6. Weigh up the cost. For some people, the ‘idea’ of change is far more appealing than the practical, physical process. That is, the theory is far easier than the reality. I’ve met many people who simply don’t want it enough (whatever it is). In fact, what often determines success or failure is the ‘want’ factor; a person’s level of drive, desire and commitment. Everything in life has a price (money, time, emotion, physical energy, pain, discomfort, risk), you need to decide if you’re willing to do what needs to be done (to pay the price), to achieve what you want to achieve. And as I’ve said too many times on this site, if you want to create exceptional outcomes, then you must be prepared to do exceptional things.

    Okay, get busy.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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