It's hard to believe 2011 is already half over. Back in January, many people made New Year's resolutions to finally get in shape, eat better, make more money and be a better spouse, employee and parent. Now that the year is already half over, it's time to see how far we've managed to come.
If you haven't made any progress on your goals, don't give up -- you still have six months left this year to accomplish them. Many New Year's resolutions are actually lifelong habits, and there is nothing to stop you from starting at anytime.
If you are having trouble sticking to your New Year's resolutions, you need to figure out why. Below is a list of possible reasons or excuses that people use and solutions for overcoming them.
Your Goals Were Unrealistic
If you set a lofty goal that now seems unrealistic you may not even want to bother starting at all. If you don't believe you can ever achieve your goal you will probably never even attempt it.
Take some time to re-evaluate your goals and possibly make them more realistic. It's better to accomplish a smaller goal than to give up on a larger goal.
When setting goals, you need to realistically take into account your work schedule, free time and energy levels. Too often people focus on perfection -- they don't want to just start running, they want to run a marathon or a triathlon. If your main motivation is to get in shape you don't need to burden yourself with an unrealistic goal. Determine your end goal and the most efficient way to achieve it.
Your Resolution Is Overwhelming
If your resolution is such a huge goal that you don't even know where to start, you should break it down into smaller steps. Once you break it down, you can determine if it is a realistic goal or not. If it is realistic and you still want to pursue it take it one step at a time. When you have set-backs just keep forging ahead.
If you have a goal but don't know how to accomplish it, you can ask your friends for advice, read books or consider hiring an expert like a dietitian, personal trainer or business coach. A strong support network can motivate you to keep going and help keep you accountable.
You Don't Have Time
This is an excuse we hear all the time. When we say we don't have time, what we really mean most of the time is that we don't have the energy. It's easy to say you haven't followed through with your resolution because of a lack of time, but I'm sure there have been times this year where you watched TV, read a book or just surfed the Internet randomly. This isn't to say you can't have any down time, but we need to make our goals a priority.
When I speak on energy management, I ask people to write down their top values and then see how much of their time is actually devoted to these values. Parents always say their family is important to them, but after completing the activities worksheet they realize they are spending very little time engaged in quality family time. By letting go of time-consuming habits that aren't important, they are able to free up more of their time and energy and pursue things that matter to them.
It's Not Important To You
Perhaps the reason you haven't followed through with your resolutions is because they aren't that important to you. If you resolved to be more organized but living in a cluttered house doesn't really bother you, then you are less likely to follow through. But if the clutter bothers your spouse then think of organization in terms of improving your relationship with them, which should be important to you.
To remind yourself of the importance of your goal, you need to think of long-term, intermediate and short-term benefits of your goals. In the case of resolving to quit smoking the short-term benefits would be saving money and better breath, while the intermediate benefit would be increased fitness. The long-term benefit would be increased longevity. Having a short-term benefit in mind helps you avoid putting it off until later, and the longer term benefits help you see the big picture of following through.
Psychologists use the term "cognitive dissonance" to define the uncomfortable tension people feel when they hold two conflicting thoughts in their mind at the same time. For smokers, sedentary and/or overweight people, they know that being healthy is important and want to live a long healthy life but still persist in unhealthy behavior. They can reduce their mental tension by changing their behavior, by downplaying the importance of healthy behaviors or by justifying their actions. By reminding yourself the importance of reaching your goals you are more likely to choose to change your behavior.
You Forgot About Them
If you forgot about your resolutions it's likely they weren't very important to you in the first place. If you need help reminding yourself to make time for your goals then you need to schedule time for making your goals a reality.
Allot time in your calendar to work on your goals. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or computer monitor to constantly remind yourself. There are even services that will send you text reminders or email you.
We have the best of intentions when making New Year's Resolutions, but research shows that few people actually follow through with them. Now is the time to stop making excuses and time to make your goals and yourself a priority. To paraphrase a popular proverb, the best time to start working on your goals was 20 years ago, the second best time is right now.
What were your New Year's Resolutions, and how much progress have you made so far? What has helped you stay on track or what has kept you from following through?