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Sticking to your New Year’s Resolution: The Trick is Not What You Think

new-years-resolution-1_lIt’s New Year’s again.  It’s time to make a resolution.

And you know the drill. You set goals.  You work on them for a couple of weeks.  You begin to flag.

Many times you give up by February.

Your New Year’s resolution becomes a distant memory until the next New Year’s when you feel slightly guilty and begin the whole process again.

If each year you make a resolution and each year you break it, something has to change.  The only way this year can be different is if you do something different.

The trick is not changing your resolution.  The trick to achieving your resolution is to use an entirely new plan to reach it.

How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution

Take a few moments and decide what goal you want to reach this year.  Once you have your goal, it’s time to apply the technique of Kaizen.

Kaizen is a Japanese term which means “good change” or “consistent change.”  Originally the idea of Kaizen was to make improvements in the Japanese workplace.  Now, however, the term is used for creating change in many settings—including your personal life.

While Kaizen includes many principles, the one which is most useful for your New Year’s resolution is the idea of small change.  The book “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer, Ph.D. describes this very well:

Kaizen is losing weight not by a crash diet (which more often than not crashes) but by eating one bite less at each meal–then, a month later, eating two bites less. Kaizen is starting a life-changing exercise program by standing–just standing–on a treadmill for one minute a day.

The easiest way to make big changes is by consistently making small changes.  Very small changes.  Tiny.  Your changes will be so small that you hardly notice that you have made a change at all.

  1. The changes must be small so that they are not difficult to do and you have no excuses to not do them.
  2. The changes must be consistent.

By making small, consistent changes, over time you make big progress.

Applying Small Changes to Your New Year’s Resolution

Look at your resolution and start with the smallest change you can make that would move you toward your goal.

For example, pretend that you don’t run but you would like run a marathon this year.  What is the smallest step you can take toward that goal?

You may decide that you can run to the end of the block every day.  One minute of running and you are done. You have taken a first step.  Commit to running to the end of the block every day for a week.

The next week you may decide to run to the end of the block and back.  Now you are running two minutes.

Every person will have different steps, but all of the steps should be easy to start and easy to continue.  Your big goal (the marathon) is now a series of many, many tiny triumphs.

Imagine how your New Year’s Resolution will feel if you can feel successful right away.  Dream big; make lofty resolutions.  But move in small steps if you want to achieve them.

Happy New Year to all of you.  May you have health, happiness and lots of love in the coming year.

Photo credit: Sam JR / / CC BY

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