Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tips for Making Good New Year's Resolutions

Here are eight tips for making and keeping your New Year’s resolutions:
  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The most successful transformations happen one step at a time. You can’t wish your way from New York to San Francisco. You can, however, buy a map, prepare a budget,Google the directions, and get in the car and go.
  2. Account for your bias. Most people have an unrealistic understanding of who they are (the bottom half of the performers in any organization uniformly think that they are above average). Before you commit to making a change, verify that you are able to make it.
  3. Measure the thing you want to change. How many cups of coffee do you drink and when? If you are going to save, what spending will you cut out? How many calories do you consume daily? The more you can quantify your current behavior, the easier it is to change it.
  4. Change one thing at a time. If you have multiple resolutions, get a calendar and schedule them out over time. Every change you make has a ripple effect. The ripples are what cause the change to fail. Give the ripples time to settle out.
  5. Quitting is easier that altering. In order to build momentum, start with changes that are all or nothing (quitting smoking, quitting drinking, starting to exercise). Once you have mastered a dramatic change, the subtler forms (reducing spending, losing weight, driving slower, moderating your intake) are easier. Practice on the dramatic ones and move up to the subtle.
  6. Make changes that feel good. Far too often, resolutions contain changes that feel awful. Getting enough rest, eating better food, taking time to say ‘I love you’, writing thank you notes are all changes that feel good in the execution. Try some of those.
  7. Be kind to yourself. Allow for the slipping and sliding that comes with any change. Seventeen days in a row is the magic number. Try to do whatever it is seventeen days in a row in January. That’s a good start.
  8. Write it down. The best way to remember last year’s resolutions is to have them in a journal.