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Natural Awakenings Boston

Commit To Change - Five Tips For Making Resolutions Stick

by John Koenig

Making and then breaking New Year’s resolutions is an American tradition. Each year, more than half of us say we will make important changes in the coming 12 months. Often with the best of intentions, we declare things like, this will be the year I will: get healthy, stop smoking, find a great job, get in/out of a relationship, write the great American novel, cut down my drinking, stop overspending, start saving, or a thousand variations on these themes. 

What happens after a person solemnly makes a New Year’s resolution? Typically, not much. Most New Year’s resolutions fail within three months. Some don’t make it through New Year’s Day. We get discouraged when things don’t go easily. We put off our resolutions to a better time. Then we even forget we had firmly committed to change in the first place.
To greatly improve the chances of successfully making resolutions that stick this year, follow these five simple steps:

STEP ONE – Get real
Look carefully at your values and challenges. Know what you really want before you declare you will spend the next year achieving it. To be successful, our resolutions must reflect our true desires not someone else’s wishes for us. 

STEP TWO – Keep goals reasonable and specific 
Avoid general New Year’s declarations like, “I will lose weight.” It is far more motivating to set a specific date and weight target. Also, avoid being too ambitious. An 800-calorie a day diet might work theoretically, but practically, how long will we exist on celery and protein shakes before we throw in the towel? Furthermore, tackle one big resolution at a time instead of trying to change everything overnight and hoping for the best.

STEP THREE – Develop a plan
Supporting the change we want begins with establishing short-term objectives. The clearer we are about how we intend to carry out our resolutions, the better our chance of success.
Get smart about what you want to accomplish. Do some homework and find out what the best strategies are to achieve this goal. Avoid using techniques that have failed in the past. Be prepared to work at the change. Research shows that going into a personal change expecting it to be difficult will give us a greater chance for success than if we tell our self it will be a walk in the park.

STEP FOUR – Go public 
Plan to share your resolutions with at least one other person. Once your resolutions are out in the open, they assume a life of their own. Breaking a promise to a spouse or friend is more difficult than breaking a secret commitment to yourself alone. Many people find it helpful to have an accountability partner, such as a professional therapist or coach, but it can also be a buddy that either has the same issue or simply has our best interests at heart. 

STEP FIVE – Work the plan one day at a time
Personal change occurs a day at a time. Maybe your Day One will be January 1, or maybe you will decide to make your 2020 resolution right now. Whether we wait until the Times Square ball falls at midnight or decide to start right now, making a change a day at a time means today, not tomorrow. People that stay stuck in problems also live one day  time, but the day they focus on is tomorrow or, worse still, yesterday. People that succeed at making personal changes stop thinking about changing one day and start thinking that today is that day and take the appropriate actions. This shift makes all the difference in their world.

John Koenig is a National Guild of Hypnotists board certified hypnotist and instructor. His next certified hypnotist training starts January 25, in Barrington. Visit for details. For private sessions at his Warwick Medical Building office, email [email protected]