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JANUARY 2002
Success Harmony Newsletter

"How to Make Your New Year's Resolutions
Last Far Beyond New Year's Day!"

I hope you had wonderful holidays, spent it with family and people you care about, and that you stepped into 2002 happy, healthy, and ready to have a great year!!!

I donít know if you are the New Yearís resolution type but, whether or not you set resolutions on New Yearís Eve, goal setting in general is a good habit to have. Why donít more people set goals, then? Here are some interesting statistics quoted by the USA Today from an issue just before December 31st. According to latest estimates by leading psychologists, hereís what now happens to New Yearís resolutions: 25% are broken in the first week. 50% are broken in the first month. 80% or more later.

I guess that Paretoís 80/20 principle is at work again, huh? (20% of the people accomplish 80% of the results, the remaining 80% of people accomplish the remaining 20% of the results.) I would not be surprised if the exact same statistics applied to goal setting in general "itís just that itís likely easier to survey around the time when so many people do actually set goals. So, how do you get to be one of the 20% (or less) of those who, instead of saying "naaaah, I got busy with other things, I don't have time for such nonsense", get to be able to give an enthusiastic "yeah, I'm right on track!" Unfortunately, will-power and good intentions are usually not enough, so here are ten of my main goal-setting rules that will help you choose a resolution and stay on track with it. All of these have been field-tested with my own goals and with my clients.

1. Set only one big resolution or up to three smaller resolutions for a 90-day period. A "big" resolution would be something like quitting smoking after having smoked for 30 years. A small resolution would be something like increasing exercise time from two times a week to three times a week. Each change requires focus on your part. The more resolutions you set, the harder it is to fit them into your life.

2. Set a resolution that will stretch you, but not one that will paralyze you. Going from a couch potato to Michael Jordan's exercise schedule is completely unrealistic and will likely lead to failure. It's better to be an achieving resolution-setting wimp than to be a failed resolution-setting hero.

3. Know why you are setting the resolution. Make sure it's congruent with who you are and what you really want in life. If it is for someone else or to look good, do not set it. It is better for your self-confidence not to set a resolution than to set it and break it. I know that in our society, there are some goals which society hails as important ones so you may feel pressure to set such goals. Financial success and a slim body are two examples of many. If a society-driven goal isnít important to you, donít pretend it is. Set a resolution that is about what you really want.

4. Set and write down a specific outcome for 90 days from the date of your resolution. Deadlines (especially written-down deadlines!) and clarity focus the mind. If it were not for exams, most of us would have learned little in school. Something in the mind may be a dream, but it becomes more real and more attainable when you put it down on paper.

5. Work back to your starting date to figure out specific milestones. If you want to lose 25 pounds in 90 days, you can target to set 5 pounds in the first month, 10 pounds in the second and third month. Small steps (monthly, weekly, daily) make a big goal seem more doable.

6. Schedule your time and resources that you will need to reach the outcome. If at all possible, make this specific and regular, so that it fits into your schedule. For example, "exercising three times a week" becomes, "a gym appointment on Monday and Wednesday at 6 pm, and Saturday at 10 am".

7. Be accountable for your progress on weekly basis to someone other than yourself. Get yourself a resolution buddy, a coach, or join a group (such as an exercise class) to help you stay on track. You may hate your friend for a few minutes after dragging you out of bed on Saturday morning, but you will thank them when you begin to look and feel great!

8. Do a vision poster or some other visual representation of your goal. A vision poster is simply a collage made from magazines, or a drawing that depicts what you want in your life (for the long term or just for the next 90 days). For example, if you want to lose weight, you might cut out a picture of a slim body from a magazine and put a picture of your head on top of it. You can also put the number of your desired weight on the picture. The mind thinks in pictures and this is a great way to get it the subconscious to work for you rather than against you

9. Use affirmations to your benefit. This is a little kooky for some people, but it works remarkably well so it has a well-deserved place among these tips. An affirmation is simply a word representation of what you see your life like once your goal is accomplished. Itís stated in the present tense, as a specific and positive statement. Kind of like a vision poster in words. "I now weigh 140 lbs." "I am now making $100,000 per year." "I now have a new job that I love." Whatever the words are, write them down at least three times in the morning before you start going about. Again, this helps to focus your mind on what you want. Reserve your judgement about their effectiveness until after you have used them for at least 30 days.

10. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down what you did that day towards your goal. No matter how small the action may have been, write it down. "I had a job interview." "I browsed through a job website and picked two jobs to apply for." "I rewrote my resume." In goal setting, people often fail because they focus on where they did not measure up and so they give up trying. By building up a "success account", you can afford to take a withdrawal here and there without feeling like a failure. More than that, as you see your success account grow, you will feel great about yourself and about the steps youíre taking. Success tends to breed more success!

In some ways, these tips are simple, and yet "simple" doesnít necessarily mean "easy". Goal setting, in my experience, isnít so much about being smart and clever. It is, though, about doing the right things enough times that the goal is reached. Just like in nature, if a farmer wants something to harvest in the fall, thereíd better be some seeds planted in the spring, and then some regular watering done all through the spring and the summer. Best of luck to you with whatever you decide your goals to be for 2002!

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"A man who wants to do something will find a way; a man who doesnít will find an excuse."
Stephen Dolley, Jr.
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© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada