15 Secrets to Keeping Your New Year's Resolution (Or Any Goal)
By Dave Kerpen
New Year's resolutions are the goals you set aggressively for yourself, only to fall off by mid-January. I'm going to lose weight. I'm going to exercise more. I'm going to network more. I'm going to start that business. We've all been there. The first, perhaps more important step to actually achieving a goal is to make it a SMART, metrics-driven goal. as I wrote about last year at time time. But even once you have a SMART, metrics-driven goal, it's not easy to keep at it, day after day, and week after week. In order to find out how people do it, I asked successful members of theYoung Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. These are the 15 secrets they shared to accomplishing your New Year's Resolution, or any goal:
1. Make a Bet
It's easy to say things you "want to do," but when a bet is placed on your head for following through, this outside motivation can help you actually stick to the goals you set for yourself. For a workout challenge I had with my wife, my consequence for failing was to rollerblade in a pink thong in South Beach...Yes, a pink thong. I didn't fail.
It can be hard to stick to a resolution if you go it alone, whether it's a business-focused goal or "hit the gym three times a week." So get your significant other or a friend to check in with you regularly. That way you'll combine your own motivation with not wanting to let someone else down, and will hopefully stick to that resolution throughout the year.
I keep my New Year's resolutions by thinking of them a little differently. Instead of a single yearly event, I decide to make consistent changes and put them on my calendar. For example, my 2006 New Year's resolution was to go to the gym at least four times per week. I put it on my calendar and I've been going to the gym for the past eight years. In fact, now I'm up to six times per week on average.
I use the app Way of Life to keep track of all of my daily and weekly goals. It's a simple, intuitive app that lets you track whether or not you've met any given goal on any given day. The only choices are green (success), red (failure) or gray (skip). Over time, you can see graphs and trends for each resolution or goal. It adds accountability and a gamification component to help keep you on track.
5. Put It In Writing and Post it Where You will See It
I find the best way to keep on track with a goal is to put it in writing and put it somewhere you will see it. By having it right in front of you, on a post it or on your smart phone, you can easily keep yourself accountable.
I love to make my New Years goals and assign three to four adjectives that describe/encompass the way I want the year to look. So when it's tough to remember each of the goals specifically on a daily basis, it's easy to think about these descriptors and how your life would look/feel if those were true today. I find this motivating to keep moving forward in a positive direction.
Decide on what you want to change and tell everyone. Tell your friends, family, strangers and people you meet at the store. The more you talk about it, the more others are involved and know your goal, the easier it will be to change.
I read a great article about commitments by Chris Freyteg. My favorite line was, “A resolution may be the act of resolving or deciding on a course of action, but a commitment can be far stronger, because it’s a specific pledge, promise or obligation.” The bottom line: Keep it simple and you’ll actually be able to add it your busy daily life.
People usually pick the easiest alternatives in their day, so to make your resolution work, make your new task easier than an existing one. Want to eat healthier? Throw away all the junk food in your house and replace it with healthy snacks and ban junk food in the house altogether. Want to start running? Put your running clothing by your bed each night so it is the closest to you each morning.
I set myself targets and goals, and I splurge/reward myself after I achieve them. That incentive motivates me to not break my resolutions. On the other hand, if I do break them I set punishments for myself by taking something away. Make sure that you're incentivized to keep on increasing the positive feedback and canceling the negative feedback.
Streaks is an app that helps you create habits. For each of your resolutions, you can create a calendar that allows you to "check" each day that you do what you say you're going to do. The goal is to maintain a streak. For example, if you want to wake up by 6 a.m. you would check each day that you achieve that goal. The longer your streak, the more likely you are to maintain that resolution.
I have a strange diet that is 90 percent meat and vegetables (extremely low carb, low fruit). The initial change was tough until I changed my internal vocabulary from "I shouldn't eat that pasta," to "I don't eat that" or "that's not food for me." To me, they aren't even food anymore and therefore aren't tempting. This trick works with all changes. "I don't sleep late," rather than "I should get up now."
It's easy to set a goal of to lose weight or stop smoking. The problem is our failure to plan a linear path on how to achieve that goal. Doing something cold-turkey never works and sets us on the path to failure. However, by creating a linear path with small goals in between, we can more easily keep our internal drive going so we can achieve our end result.
Set calendar alerts now to remind you to stay on track. For some, that may mean scheduling your workouts for 2015 now. For me, it means setting alerts reminding me to send thank you notes every week to people who have gone above and beyond to support my business.
Now it's your turn! What's your New Years resolution? How do you plan to keep it without going astray? Share some ideas that have worked for you or that you plan to try out now. Please let me know your thoughts and stories in the Comments section below, and please share this post with your network, so that we can all accomplish our goals in 2015!