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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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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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