Does it surprise you to know that 89% of people who make resolutions on New Years Day fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day?

Given these odds and with a history of making resolutions throughout the year and not keeping them, many people give up.

However, making resolutions is more effective than not, it focuses our attention, at least for a short time, on how we would like our life to be better, and directs our thinking on ways to achieve this.

So how to increase the odds of success? Three principles of coaching, which, if applied, drastically increase your likelihood of success.

First define what you will do. Make it clear to yourself what success will look like and be specific. Not just taking up weekly walking but walking on Tuesdays and Fridays. Not just spending more time with the children, rather making every second Sunday ‘family day’ rather than chore day.

Second, get back on the bike if you fall off. Don’t think about it or berate yourself, just pick up where you left off. So you missed Tuesday’s walk because you slept in, skip the self-flagellation and just go on Friday. Then go again next Tuesday, and the next Friday etc. Don’t over-think the process.

Third build in structure and support. This is the most important strategy. The reason most of us do not continue with new behaviour is that it is not yet a habit.  We need a lot of help to develop new habits because our old ways are so imprinted in our brains.

Here are some examples of building in structure and support:

  • Reminders in your phone – if there is a batch of phone calls you need to make and you know you have a break at 10am, make that an appointment with an alert.
  • Making arrangements with friends to do your ‘resolution’ activity together – if you know that someone is coming over at 7am for the walk you arranged, it’s highly unlikely you’ll stay in bed.
  • Doing the activity first thing in the morning – making it a priority. This also sets you up for feeling the flush of success all day.
  • Don’t just stop doing something, replace it with something else. There is a vacuum left when you stop something, that needs to be filled. Want to give up that mid afternoon chocolate? Have dried fruit or nuts instead.
  • Post reminders to yourself. Feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do? Post a note on your fridge or computer asking yourself “what is the priority here?”

Finally, it takes approximately 28 days to change behaviour. This means that at the end of that time, the new behaviour will feel easier and there will be much less internal resistance. You will be well on your way to making that resolution stick.


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