This article was previously published in the Deseret News.
Sarah wants to lose 20 pounds. Bobby wants to make a million dollars. Kerry wants to find a job. No matter the goal, ultimate success (or lack thereof) is dependent on your ability to make resolutions that stick. If your resolutions aren’t sticky, your goals will fall and quickly wither away, like leaves before winter’s first snow.
Here are 10 ways to make New Year’s resolutions that are sure to stick:
1. Know thy commitment
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein
In football, the term “Hail Mary pass” denotes a low probability effort to get the ball to the end zone and score. In essence, you throw the ball as far as you can, cross your fingers and pray like crazy. This play is generally reserved as a “last ditch” effort, and it very rarely leads to success.
Some resolutions are what I call “Hail Mary resolutions” or “Hail Mary goals,” not because the goal itself is impossible or unrealistic, but because the execution is so improbable to yield success. If you are truly committed to achievement, you cannot approach your goals in this way. You can’t simply throw a goal out there, cross your fingers, pray like crazy and expect to achieve the results you seek.
In order to make resolutions that will stick (and lead to success), you have to do the work up front a) to truly understand what it is you’re after, and b) to know what it’s going to take to get you there. Once you’ve decided that the ends and the means are absolutely worth it to you to achieve your goals, your propensity for success will increase tenfold.
2. Equip yourself
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Preparation is your most important ally if you hope to create resolutions that stick. All too often, people blame failure to achieve on not having something they need to be successful (for example: the right tools, important knowledge, adequate support, etc). If you acted on the first tip, you should know exactly what you need to achieve success. Now, do the work to surround yourself with what you need to win. No excuses.
3. Engage others in your success
“Enthusiasm spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” ― Norman Vincent Peale
Please, please, please get others involved in your success. There is absolute magic in accountability.
4. Plunge in 100 percent
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes but no plans.” ― Peter F. Drucer
Making your New Year’s resolutions happen is about making an absolute commitment — 100 percent. Even if you commit at 99 percent, guess what? You’ll achieve 0 percent of the results. That tiny, seemingly insignificant 1 percent lack of commitment has the power to poison every ounce of your remaining resolve.
5. Grow down
“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” ― Saint Augustine
You “grow down” in two ways:
1. Don’t be so “grown up” that you can’t take a fall. Setting goals and working towards reaching them is like learning how to walk all over again; you’re going to wobble and you’re going to fall. Follow a child’s example and just keep getting back up. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you can’t handle a little failure along the way. When you mess up, forgive yourself, stand back up, put a smile on your face and move on.
2. Take root. Tree roots grow down for a reason. Be firm in your resolve, and the winds of circumstance will have no power to tear you from your solid foundation.
6. Open war on distractions
“Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” ― Blaise Pascal
We love distractions because they keep our minds off the difficulty of the goal at hand.
There is a strategy to help you stay focused: Act on the things that lead you to achieving your goal each day before you do anything else. Don’t allow yourself to start on any other activities on your to-do list until your resolution activities are complete.
7. Iterate to success
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” ― C.S. Lewis
In other words: 1) identify what works for you, 2) do it again, 3) improve each time along the way, 4) repeat. Iterate to success also means to stop doing what doesn’t work and return to what does. Too often we find something that onlypartially works in reaching goals and quit. Instead, try taking what works (learn from what doesn’t) and experiment on the working part again — only this time, add something new to the mix and incrementally innovate your way to success.
8. Narrate progress
“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” ― Charlotte Brontë
Don’t keep your progress to yourself. Tell someone (who is rooting for you to succeed) all about what you’ve done. This keeps you excited, gets them excited and helps you remain accountable to others. Also, when you mess up, talk about it and ask for advice on how to proceed. Often you’ll find that you already know how to proceed; there is just something about talking about it that make the solutions happen.
9. Go, go, go
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Woot! Woot! That is the sound of your self-talk cheering you on as you make your dreams happen. Doing nothing is depressing. Doing something is elating. Stop worrying. Just go.
10. Keep going
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ― Thomas Edison
The previous nine tips form the mnemonic: keep going. This year, do it for real. Don’t give up. Take these 10Terrif tips to heart, to mind, to action and then to the bank, the scale or wherever you want your goals to take you.
Richie Norton is a “yellow.” He’s the author of “The Power of Starting Something Stupid” and No. 1 Amazon download “Resumes Are Dead and What to Do About It.” Connect on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/RichieNorton