Making Successful New Year’s Resolutions

Created by
Karen Gray CH, RN

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a New Year’s Resolution is “a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.” A 2018 YouGov poll ranked the most common goals in the U.S. were to eat healthier, get more exercise, and to save more money.

It’s been my experience that people, in general, want to be better than they are right now, and making a New Year’s Resolution is a great way to motivate yourself to follow through on your goals. It sounds easy enough for sure, but still many people can’t keep up the momentum of their resolution long enough to make real changes in their life. In 2017, U.S. News reported that approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.

So, are we just doomed to fail at our desires to improve our lives in the coming year, or is there some way that we can do better?

Make a Plan

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I am, on the whole, a spontaneous person. But I cannot overstate the importance of having a plan. Even a spontaneous trip to the grocery store requires a little planning and a general idea of what you need to accomplish while you are there.

When we talked about looking back on the last year (End the Year Confidently) we laid out the groundwork for deciding what we wanted to be better at in the year to come. For some people that will be leaving behind old habits and limiting beliefs, and for others it will be gaining new skills and capabilities. Once you have decided what you want to do, you can start to make a plan.

If you have made plans in the past and not been as successful as you’d like to be, then you’ll want to pay attention. When we aren’t getting the results we want it’s a clue that we need to change the way we do things. There is, in fact, a right way and a wrong way to make a plan.

1.  Know what you want to do.

Be realistic about this. Be specific. Don’t just decide that you want to lose weight, decide how much weight you want to lose. It is great to want to be more productive, but in what way?

2.  Know why you want to do it.

Change is great, but you will be more successful if you know why you are changing. What do you have to gain? What do you have to lose? I give each of my clients a worksheet that asks them to list seven benefits of making the change they came to work on. It also asks them what they stand to lose by making this change. I ask this because everything we do we do for a reason, and when we understand that reason we have better success in letting it go.

3.  Work backwards from your end goal.

In order to do this you have to know what your success looks like. Use your imagination and visualize stepping on the scale and reading your goal weight. Picture yourself in new clothes, sitting in your new office, cashing those big paychecks. Make these daydreams as detailed as possible, so your subconscious knows what to work toward.

4.  Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.

In Neuro-linguistic programming we call this chunking down.” So let’s say that you want to lose 100 pounds. We all know that no one is going to wake up one day 100 pounds slimmer, so break it down into reasonable, bite-sized pieces. Losing 10 pounds at a time is reasonable, and lets you have many frequent wins, which keeps you motivated.

The same goes for other goals. If you are looking for a promotion, break the journey down into steps and set each one as it’s own goal. What needs to happen before you get that promotion? Do you need to improve your sales or attendance? Make each of those a goal along the way.

5.  Make lists.

Lot’s of them. I know that you might think that lists are a waste of time, but remember that if you are not getting the results you want from something then you need to do the thing a different way.

Lists are great. When we write stuff down, we get those thoughts out of our heads into a space that we can see them, use them, change them, and improve on them. So, make a list of the things you want to change, and then make a list of the things that need to happen to create those changes. Make a list of the resources you’ll need to take those actions, and note what you already have and what you still need to get.

You can use these list to track your progress and refine your actions. Plan on coming back to them as you move toward your goals. Remember that as you grow, your needs change, and you will want to revise your goals as this happens. Keeping a notebook of these lists means that you have all of your ideas available and in one place.

6.  Put timelines on everything.

But be reasonable about it. A typical diet and exercise combination results in one to two pounds lost each week. Your professional goals may be time driven as well. Timelines are an excellent way to keep you motivated and accountable. Just remember that the goal of creating these time limits is to create successes. Don’t make your timelines impossible or unreasonable to achieve.

7.  Celebrate your successes.

Each step you take toward your goal is a step closer than you have been before. Lost 3 pounds? Make a journal entry or brag to good friends. Complete a course? Celebrate with a Linkedin post and healthy dinner. Reached a personal fitness goal? Share it with your team! We thrive on reinforcement, and when it feels so good to win we want to do it more and more. Winning can be the best motivator ever.

Putting it Into Action

Each step you take toward your goal is progress. Even the simple act of deciding that you want to change something is progress. The wonderful thing about progress is that it tends to build on itself, and all those little steps and little tasks add up very quickly to great big things. Soon, losing 10 pounds a month adds up to 100 pounds lost. And finishing one online lecture a week means that you have completed a course.

Take each step seriously, no matter how small. You will easily develop the habit of working toward success when you realize that everything you are doing, even making lists, is moving you to where you want to be.

The Role of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is so much more than quitting smoking and overcoming fears. It is also about becoming more aware of what you are doing and thinking and feeling. All of your habits, thoughts, behaviors, self-talk, and emotions are controlled and managed by your subconscious mind.

There is no more powerful or effective tool for creating change than your own mind, and hypnosis gives you the ability to use that tool to its fullest potential. No matter what changes you want to make, you have to change your mind first. Hypnosis is the Master Class, teaching you how your mind works, and how to make it work for you.∎

Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at, or call (802) 566-0464.

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