Stack the odds in your favor for once with these science-backed tricks for sticking to your resolution.
Don’t feel like a schlep.
Only eight percent of us successfully achieve our New Year’s resolutions. A third of our resolutions are blown to pieces by the end of January. I once managed to blow a resolution before the Miss Kitty balloon sauntered onto TV during the New Year’s Day parade.
So your only resolution should be not to have one, right? Is that my message?!
No, no, no. You just need some cheat codes to win at this game (unless if your resolution is not to cheat at games anymore).
Stick to these eight science-backed hacks to make your resolution stick in 2017.
- Know there’s nothing harder than habit change
The hardest challenge in marketing is to create habit change. Getting consumers to Swiffer their floors instead of sweep it for free every time didn’t happen overnight. It’s no different in trying to change a personal habit–science confirms this is tough sledding.
So forgive yourself along the way. Have a plan for how you’ll handle setbacks, because they’re inevitable. Remember that you’ve made change happen before, and you will again.
- Create a cascade
Research indicates the importance of starting with goals that are small, simple, and specific to get the flywheel of transformation going.
Think about it. The word resolution means to solve something, usually a problem. Problems get solved one step at a time. Researchers say don’t try to drop 15 pounds–commit to cutting out pizza first, then ice cream, and so on. One success encourages you and leads to another.
I’ve recently gone all-in on my desire to help others through my writing and speaking. My resolution is to be more patient in pursuit of success. I’m setting goals of having at least one Top 10 most-read Inc.com articles per week, having my upcoming book in more hands on launch day than I did my first book, and getting more than a dozen endorsements from keynotes that really inspired people.
Small, simple, specific goals to keep me revved towards my ultimate goal (to be on ‘Dancing With the Stars’).
- Practice is like pine tar
Pine tar is a sticky substance that baseball players rub on their bat to improve grip. Pine tar makes things stick–and so does practicing self-control
Researchers had a group of smokers who were trying to quit practice measures of self-control unrelated to smoking cessation. The subjects avoided sweets or squeezed a grip strengthener for as long as they could several times a day. Even though the self-control exercises were unrelated to smoking cessation, these subjects were 56 percent more successful at quitting than the control group.
- Write down your goals and visualize them regularly
Science is super clear that people who put their goals on paper are significantly more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. Same with those who visualize their goals.
- Register as a role model
If doing it for yourself isn’t compelling enough, role-modeling accomplishment of your resolution for someone else might be. Ask yourself if someone worth influencing might be watching.
- Enroll accountability assistants
Research indicates that people who tell their friends and family about their resolutions (and share progress along the way) do better in achieving them then those who don’t. Publicly committing can keep you accountable.
- Make time, use metrics
Scheduling time for the self-control part of your resolution is critical–whether it’s setting time for exercise, time to practice a new habit, or simply quiet time to review your goals and approach.
Create forms of measurement to help you stay on track. There’s a reason Fitbit has exploded in popularity.
- Remind yourself of the rewards and requirements
Research indicates putting up physical reminders of your goals is critical (think motivating sticky notes, a picture of a fifteen-pound slimmer you, etc.). Such reminders help duplicate the intensity of your will at that key moment you set the resolution.
And being periodically reminded of that carrot at the end of the stick really can help you realize your resolution.
So, armed with this list, resolve with great resolve to see your resolution through in 2017!
This article by Scott Mautz also appeared on Inc.com. To read more Inc. articles by Scott Mautz click here.
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