New Year's Resolutions on a chalk board

How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions

You’ll find plenty of general (and good) advice on how to keep your New Year’s Resolutions – but they miss the fundamental problem. Here’s a really simple trick that addresses that problem

There’s plenty of advice on how to keep your New Year’s Resolution.

You’ll read (really useful) tips like these:

  1. Aim low
  2. Be realistic and plan
  3. Use habit not willpower
  4. Make a public declaration
  5. Give yourself a reward

These are all good. I know. I’ve actually come up with a list of seven tips on making your diet stick throughout 2017 and they helped me.

But those tips don’t address what’s really wrong with New Year’s Resolutions. They come from a voice that becomes quieter and more distance with every passing moment. And it’s a problem that’s really, really easy to fix.

You need a pull not a push

Think about it. Your New Year’s Resolutions come from a bizarre place – off work, partying, heady, overweight, surrounded by supportive friends. There’s a big change coming – a new year – and you have a nagging feeling this is the moment you ought to be turning your life.

Of course you’re going to set yourself goals. But as January becomes February the festive person who nagged you to do better fades away like a ghost. Those hopes are irrelevant on a wet Wednesday in March. That voice from the past is so easy to ignore. You were a different person back then, right?

So it’s time to switch it up

Write a letter to yourself with your New Year's Resolutions

Write a letter to yourself with your New Year’s Resolutions

Don’t write a resolution, write a letter

Write a letter to your future self. Let Present You tell Future You what they expect of you with your New Year’s Resolutions.

Write a letter outlining what Future You is expecting this year, what achievements they expect to see. Not woolly goals like “be happy” but concrete achievements from “lose a stone” to “put up that shelf in the bathroom” or “write that novel”.

Give yourself some rewards. List what you’ll be allowed to do if you achieve your resolutions.

Put the letter in an envelope and put the envelope where you can see it – by the running machine or stuck to the fridge.

Let that letter be a motivating tool. Learn to dread the admonishment if you fall down on your resolutions. Learn to embrace the joy if you lived up to your predicted standards.

Visualise that moment

Remember, you’ll be opening the letter on December 31, 2018. Visualise that moment over and over. The sense of satisfaction of achieving your own highest goals in your New Year’s Resolution. A year of tenacity and grit. Or the unthinkable opposite.

When you’re down, ponder on that unthinkable opposite and use that sense of disappointment to drive you on. Remember, endurance is the price tag of achievement.

You could write that on the front of the envelope if you want.

Giles BroadbentHow to keep your New Year’s Resolutions

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