Love them or hate them, every year, approximately 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and losing weight tops the list, followed by getting organized, spending less and saving more, enjoying life to the fullest, staying fit and healthy, learning something exciting, quitting smoking, helping others fulfill their dreams, falling in love, and spending more time with family.
A staggering 25 percent don’t make it past the first week, and only about 8 percent actually stay on course and achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
One of the reasons New Year’s resolutions go awry for so many of us is because, after years of failing to succeed, our subconscious mind has learned to associate negative feelings with them, such as disappointment, failure, and anger.
You must change your approach in 2015, otherwise history will repeat itself. Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is, after all, the definition of insanity, according to Albert Einstein.
Here are 10 steps to shift the outcome and make the road to achieving your New Year’s resolutions both smooth and swift.
1. Give your New Year’s resolutions a name change.
Every word we speak generates feelings. Some words cause us to feel happy, some can make us feel sad, and a few leave us in a neutral state. For those who haven’t succeeded in the past, the words “New Year’s resolutions” may awaken less-than-positive feelings. Ditch the phrase and choose a new word that will cause you to feel better. How about “future accomplishments” instead? How does that feel to you? The most important thing is to find a label that feels positive. Feelings are triggered by the subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind takes language literally. So use language that makes you feel good.
2. State your resolutions and goals as positives and in the present tense.
When writing out your 2015 goals be sure to state them as positives. If I ask you not to think of an apple, your mind will immediately think of an apple and all your associations and knowledge about apples, because the subconscious mind does not recognize a negative. For example, notice which of the following resolution statements makes you feel better, more motivated, and uplifted. Compare “I no longer want to be broke,” with “My income constantly increases, I manage my money well, pay all my bills on time, and I always have money left to contribute to my savings.” Doesn’t the second example feel more positive? When you are in a positive mental and emotional state, you are far more likely to achieve your goals and resolutions.
Don’t worry if your conscious mind disagrees with or rejects the second example. Your conscious mind is not in charge of how you feel. The subconscious mind rules your emotional state, and the subconscious mind does not know the difference between reality and imagination. This is the reason you cry when you watch a sad movie. Consciously you know there is no need for you to cry; you are merely observing images projected onto a screen. To the subconscious, however, these images feel real, and you experience legitimate feelings and emotions.
Read your goals out loud on a daily basis, as positive statements and in the present tense, as if you’ve already achieved them—because your subconscious knows only the present, not the past nor the future. Repeat them over and over, and your mind will accept them as your new reality.
3. Be specific.
Many people fail because their resolutions are too broad and not specific enough. Imagine directing a taxi driver to take you to Mission Valley. You are dissatisfied with his service after he drops you off at the public library, because you wanted to go to the Fashion Valley Mall. You didn’t get the result you wanted because you weren’t specific enough.
If you are not clear about what you want and where you want to go in your life, you may never get there. Don’t worry how you’ll get there—you may encounter a few detours. So long as you have a clear destination, you will find a way around any detours and obstacles to your goal.
4. Have an evidence procedure and a deadline.
Your goal and the progress you make must be measurable. You must have an evidence procedure to recognize that you have accomplished your goal.
Be sure to measure your progress regularly. If you don’t, how else will you know whether or not you are getting closer to reaching your goals, and if what you are doing is working?
Achieve your New Year’s Resolutions in 2015
5. Be realistic, be flexible, and break down your big goals into smaller goals.
Ask yourself if it is realistic to go to the gym every single day in 2015, if you haven’t exercised once in 2014? (Of course it is not.) Your resolutions must be realistic. Perhaps you have decided to exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Although that is much more realistic, be flexible. There may be a Monday or a Friday when you get stuck at work and can’t get to the gym. Don’t give up on that goal because you didn’t make it to the gym on one particular day. Be flexible, and perhaps make up for it on Saturday or Sunday. Detours will show up. When you are flexible enough to work around them, you will get to your final destination.
It may sound and feel overwhelming to say you’ll lose 100 pounds in 2015. Just thinking about that number may make you want to surrender and eat a pint of ice cream! Break down larger goals like these into smaller chunks. Losing 2 pounds a week sounds much more manageable, and will still win you the same result in the end.
If weight loss is your goal, remember that the subconscious takes language literally. Nobody likes to lose things. When we lose something, usually we try to find it again. You may have experienced this when you regained the weight and perhaps “found” a few additional pounds. Rather than losing weight, focus on releasing it, letting it go, or simply affirm that you are slim, trim, firm, and fit at your ideal body weight.
6. Keep your goals in front of you daily.
Place your goals where you will be reminded of them every day. What about a sticky note on the dashboard of your car, a vision board in your office, or a photo of all of your 2015 goals as the screensaver on your computer or smartphone? Read them just after waking up every morning and fall asleep every night listening to a personalized hypnosis recording. Imagine you have already achieved them and how that feels. Falling asleep with the visuals and feelings of having achieved your goals programs your subconscious mind to accomplish them.
7. Take action and have faith.
Making New Year’s resolutions and writing them down is not enough. Even affirming them daily won’t “attract” them magically into your life. The last six letters in the word attraction spell “action.” To achieve your 2015 goals you must take active steps toward achieving them. Map out a plan and focus on one step at a time. For example, when driving to L.A. from San Diego, you must first get to Carlsbad. Once there, you focus on getting to Irvine, and so on northward. Take that very first step, and have faith. According to Martin Luther King, Jr., faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
8. Keep at it, even if you don’t succeed at first.
There really is no failure. You achieved every past goal that was important to you. It may have taken you multiple attempts, and you may have needed to change your approach several times, but because the goal was important, you persevered until you finally succeeded. Those you didn’t attain either were not important enough to you, or were no longer important because your situation or desires changed.
When it appears you are experiencing failure, you are simply receiving feedback. It’s time to change and adjust some aspect of the process. To quote Tracy McMillan, “Everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.”
9. Be accountable.
Have an accountability partner. We are more likely to let ourselves down than others. Share your goal and your committed action steps with an accountability partner, and review them on a regular basis. Share your goals only with people who are supportive of you and have no stake in the outcome.
A plethora of smartphone apps and computer programs are available to help you stay accountable. You might consider using one of the newer trends, an “anti-charity.” Write a check for a motivational amount to a charity you do not support and never would. Give the check to your accountability partner (there are also online organizations who will handle this for you) and, if you do not achieve your goal by the set deadline, he or she will mail the check. If you achieve your goal, the check is returned to you. Search online for “anti-charity” to learn more about this concept.
10. Are you getting closer to your goal?
Last but not least, ask yourself, “Is what I am doing getting me closer or farther away from accomplishing my goal?” Everything you do in life is either supporting you or not. Keep checking to ensure you don’t waste any time, money, or energy on anything that is not getting you closer to your final destination.
Remember to be patient with yourself and to be realistic. Be realistic even as you use any of these 10 steps; you may not be able to put all of them into practice right away. Start with just one, and keep implementing more until you have finally reached all of your New Year’s resolutions in 2015.