Dawn Romeo

As January draws to a close and the fire of determination fueling your New Year’s resolution starts to wane, you may find yourself deviating from your plan, losing momentum or just giving up altogether. First of all, don’t beat yourself up, you’re not alone. Statistics indicate that by July, less than 10% of people feel they have successfully stuck to their New Year’s plan and nearly half of all Americans don’t even bother setting themselves a goal in the first place; usually for fear that they will not succeed.

If you haven’t set yourself a goal this year, it’s not too late to start now. There is no rule stating that all successful resolutions begin on January 1st – in fact many of them don’t! It turns out that starting your New Year’s resolution later could actually be a very wise idea; let’s face it, most of us aren’t feeling particularly motivated on New Year’s day when we are tired, over-indulged and completely out of our normal routine. So, if you haven’t set yourself a target already, why not start planning now? Don’t be arbitrary when picking the day to begin your journey; choose based on what will best suit you and your lifestyle, then keep reading to find out how you can become one of the successful 9.2% (yes – that’s all it is!).

If you have already started and broken your New Year’s resolution and are feeling like you’ve failed… you haven’t. Stepping off the path does not mean that you have to stay there. Long-term goals take more than one moment’s worth of positive energy to achieve, so don’t think a moment of weakness (or even a couple of days of weakness) means that you have failed. If you re-focus yourself and pick up your good habits again then these set-backs will eventually be minor blips on an otherwise progressive road to success!

So, how do we get back on track with our New Year goal? Start by considering: what is the key to success?

Many of you will have answered “willpower”. Well, this simply isn’t the case! Remember that willpower is a finite resource – you can force yourself into unfamiliar habits, into doing or not doing a certain thing, but you cannot keep it up indefinitely, nobody can. As soon as your resolve begins to weaken, self-doubt will creep in. Fear of failure is without question the biggest act of self-sabotage any goal-setter can commit. Success relies on a deep-rooted belief that you can and will achieve what you set out to. To find out more about how your internal commentary affects your journey to goal-accomplishment, read “7 Steps to Success in the New Year”. For now, let’s look at goal clarification and how it can ensure your success!

1.Make sure your goal is specific

Research suggests that people who are explicit about their New Year goals are 10 times more likely to succeed than those who are not. Your goal must be specific and quantifiable; you need to say what you want to do and when you want to do it. It is not enough to simply say: “I want to be slimmer by the summer”. Instead say, “I want to lose 20lbs by June 30th this year. I will achieve this by losing 5lbs each month, following a meticulously thought-out healthy eating and exercise plan.” Whatever your target, specificity and planning are key.

2.Make sure your plan is detailed

A detailed plan makes navigating any journey easier; details are what will help you as and when you encounter obstacles. Think of using a map to find an unfamiliar place; a map that includes side-streets and landmarks will get you to your destination with far less hiccups than a simple list of directions. Your plan must take into account any difficulties you are likely to face and be comprised of step-by-step milestones, leading up to your final goal.

3.Make sure your milestones are achievable

Your milestone achievements or “mini-goals” must be attainable. It is no good saying you will lose 6lbs in a week or study for three hours every evening – aiming too high too quickly sets us up for failure. Instead, your plan should include many small milestones set within an achievable time frame. This will give you tons of opportunities to pat yourself on the back as you successfully tick off each achievement!