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How to Salvage Any Blown New Year Resolutions

How to Salvage Any Blown New Year Resolutions

    We are approaching the time of year when many people have already blown their New Year resolutions. For example, according to the fitness industry, a ton of gym memberships are sold from December to February but attendance significantly drops from March and on when people who were hoping to get fit as a New Year resolution will give up.

    This happens year after year for not only health-related resolutions but for pretty well all types including saving money and quitting smoking. If this has already happened to you or if you are on the verge of giving up some of your New Year resolutions, here are some steps you can take to hopefully salvage them.

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    Reconsider the Reasons for Each Resolution

    First, reconsider the reasons behind each of your resolutions just to better understand why you came up with them in the first place. Are they still valid or important?

    Sometimes a New Year resolution might be just a sudden urge that is not really all that important to your life after some time passes. If this is the case, drop the resolution altogether. If the reasons are still solid, then keep the resolutions for the next step.

    Turn Each Resolution into a Defined Goal

    Now for the resolutions that are still important to you, turn them into defined goals. Losing weight or getting in shape is far too general. Instead, set such a resolution as a realistic goal you can measure. For example, lose ten pounds during each remaining month in 2012 is something you can measure. Make sure that your defined goals are realistic by seeing what other people have done who have been successful with similar goals.

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    Plan What You Have to Do Each Week

    Now that you have the end results in mind, plan out what you actually have to do each week in order to achieve those goals you set. This can be setting definite time periods during the week to work out at the gym as well as getting the training from qualified trainers if you need it.

    Physically enter the things you must do each week into your calendar or appointment book just like any other important appointments that you may have each week. This must be on something that you will be referring to each day whether it is a physical calendar or electronic one.

    Monitor Your Progress Over Time

    Most goals that were previously New Year resolutions take time and effort to achieve.  They cannot be done overnight. But accepting the fact that many of your goals will take continued work over the entire year doing a step at a time, you will then be able to monitor your progress over time.

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    If you stray a bit, take immediate action to make up for lost opportunities to work on your goals. Track your progress and adjust the targets as required if they were not originally set very realistically. Don’t forget that for many goals, active participation with other like-minded people rather than attempting everything on your own will help you stay on track.

    (Photo credit: Lifebuoy white against the blue sky and bright sun via Shutterstock)

    By turning your New Year resolutions into longer term, measurable goals over the entire course of the year with actual steps and time allocated for them, you will be able to salvage abandoned resolutions.

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    If you feel brave and honest enough to reveal any already blown resolutions, feel free to share them below and what you might do to salvage them.

    Good luck!

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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