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Do You Make These 7 New Year's Resolutions Mistakes?

12/31/2011 12:20 pm ET | Updated Mar 01, 2012

By now, most of us know that New Year's resolutions rarely work. But do you know why your New Year's resolutions fizzle out by mid-January?

Here are the seven most common New Year's resolutions mistakes:

Mistake #1. You haven't found your "Why-Tos."

You say you want to lose weight, or quit smoking, or start meditating, or just be happier. But do you know WHY you want to do those things?

The plain and simple truth is that if you don't know your Why-Tos, or if your Why-Tos aren't strong enough, when the first roadblock comes up, it's very likely you'll go back to your old habits.

Why? Because we humans are creatures of habits. So if you want to actually change your behavior, you must go beneath the behavior to what's causing the behavior in the first place.

Mistake #2. You haven't found your "Why-Not-Tos."

This is the flip side of your Why-Tos. As I explain in my book "The Secret Code of Success," everything you do is caused by your Why-Tos weighed against your Why-Not-Tos. Your brain is like an infinite weighing machine: It's always comparing your perceived benefits (Why-Tos) against your perceived cost (Why-Not-Tos).

Whenever you're considering doing something -- like starting a new exercise program, being happier, reading this article -- your brain is going, "Why should I do this -- how will it BENEFIT me, and what's it going to COST me?"

If you can't make your Why-Tos outweigh your Why-Not-Tos, you simply won't stick with it -- no matter how good your intentions are.

Mistake #3. You haven't enlisted the help of your friends.

The easiest way to fail is to try to do it alone.

There aren't many examples of people who did great things by themselves. Bill Gates had Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Michael Jordan had his dad. Paul McCartney had John Lennon.

The way to overcome this mistake is simple: Tell your friends what you want and why you want it, and ask them to support you in making positive changes.

Mistake #4. You're not using positive peer pressure.

Tell your friends to tell you when they see you screwing up.

Most people won't do this because they're afraid of looking bad in the eyes of their friends. The problem is, your friends already know when you screwed up; they're just too nice to tell you.

That's why you must give your friends permission to tell you when you mess up or fall short of what you said you wanted to do.

Tell them, "Hey, if you catch me doing X / not doing X (the thing you said you were going to change), tell me about it and I promise not to get mad at you."

Then, make sure you don't get mad at them when they tell you.

Mistake #5. You don't have an accountability partner.

This is taking positive peer pressure to a whole new level.

An accountability partner is someone you communicate with at least once a week, even up to once a day, to check in on your progress.

The beautiful thing is, you can also be that person's accountability partner and help THEM make positive changes, too.

Mistake #6. You don't have a plan.

No matter what you're trying to do -- lose weight, quit smoking, be happier -- you can have all the good intentions in the world. But without a solid plan of action, your good intentions will probably fall short.

That's why it's good to go to experts -- people who have succeeded at the thing you're trying to do -- and see how they did it.

There's almost always someone who's done what you want to do. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Learn from the mistakes of others and shorten the time it takes to reach your destination.

Mistake #7. You've set yourself up to fail.

This is the worst mistake of all. You set your New Year's resolution, but you either don't really think you can do it, or you had no real intention of doing it in the first place.

The truth is, everyone knows how to lose weight or quit smoking or be happier. But most people simply don't believe they can do it -- either because they've tried in the past and failed, or they just don't believe they're capable of doing it.

Don't fall into that old pattern of not believing in yourself. You CAN make positive changes in your life this year.

Go through this list, make sure you're not making these seven mistakes, and you'll be more than halfway to making positive changes and keeping your New Year's resolutions.

Thank you for being one of my faithful readers!

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