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New Year's Resolutions Don't Work... Unless You Ask for Help

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Stop fooling yourself: if you didn't do it this year, you won't do it next year. New Year's resolutions don't work, and if you continue to believe in them, then you're setting yourself up for a loss.

I'm not trying to discourage you, by the way; in fact, I'd like you to have as many wins as you can. I just don't want to see you, or anyone, waste time repeating a pattern that doesn't work.

Try this exercise. On a sheet of paper draw two columns. Label the left-hand column as "Committed to in 2010," and in that column list all the things you were committed to achieving, all goals, all tasks and resolutions in the past 12 months.

Now label the right-hand column as "Actual results in 2010," and, next to each item on the left side, write what actual results you got on each item. Be completely honest with yourself, and don't take this as a chance to exaggerate positive results or beat yourself up for a lack of results.

It's very important that you don't change your story or add any gray areas to the facts. If you intended to lose 10 pounds in 2010 but only lost five (or gained five), then these are black/white facts. You can't add the story, "I didn't realize that I'd get a job in a doughnut factory," or, "But this year I've joined a weight-loss group, so I'll be on target soon." It either happened or it didn't; you were either 100-percent or some part of that. Take time and be honest.

This next step is the most important: now take the "Committed to in 2010" and put it over the right-hand column. Now you have a true idea of what you were committed to in 2010, or you have an idea that even though you thought you were committed to those other things, you were more committed to something else: comfort, being liked, other people, wishes, how things ought to be, sleeping, watching TV, etc.

The story here is context. The best context for creating results, changing behaviors, changing anything in our lives is the context of "no matter what" and is the purview of coaches, friends and mentors, which is where the real key to making changes and keeping commitments in 2010 lies: asking for help.

If you are ending the year with anything less than a "Wow, what a year," then the change you really need to make this year is to enlist help and support to achieve your goals. Shared goals are more likely to happen; this has been proved over and over again by groups like Weight Watchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, Master Mind groups and others.

You may not be in the position to enlist a professional coach, but you can take advantage of all the coaches in your life: family, friends, etc. Anyone you ask for help can be the angel who'll help you achieve your goals, and if you agree to the help, also agree to let them shut any "back door" you may try to use, to hold you to your word and keep you going in spite of any setbacks, roadblocks or other challenges that may accompany any worthy goal.

If you did complete everything on the left-hand side 100 percent, by the way, congratulations. The "bad" news is that if you completed everything, you probably could have completed so much more, and chances are you sold yourself short! Your choice: play safe or commit to constant growth!

Good luck to all of us in this new year, but remember, as Thomas Jefferson said, "I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."


If you're serious about change, I point you toward my book, "The Hamlet Secret: A Self-Directed Workbook for Living a Passionate, Joy-Filled Life," and the chapter "We Must Speak by the Card..." on page 165. The entire book is about living a life of 100-percent responsibility and having things happen because you say so. Want to have a really powerful year? Buy a copy of the book*, read each of the 80-plus short chapters and do the accompanying exercises. (Read the results from one person who just finished the year-long challenge here).

*If you can't afford to purchase the book, e-mail me at, and I'll send you a transcript of that chapter as a gift to help you get started.

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