THE BLOG
12/29/2015 04:01 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2016

Engage the Power of the Possible to Achieve Your New Year's Resolutions

The new year is ushered in with depictions of a baby: pretty obvious symbolism, right? New year, new beginnings, new resolutions.

But babies usually go on to crawl, toddle, and eventually, run. Why don't our New Year's resolutions fare as well? Usually we crawl through them, maybe toddle a bit, but then fall down. And stay down. Run with it? Oh please, in your dreams. So much for that new diet/exercise regimen/budget resolution. Or whatever was on your "Gonna get that done this year!" list.

But here's the thing: if babies had a "fall-down-and-stay-down" attitude, we'd all still be on our backs staring at mobiles. The question then is, how do babies do it? What do babies have that we don't?

Babies have a great case of the "possibles." Babies have no concept of the impossible. They don't question, "Can I walk?" "Will I walk?" they just persist until they do. We adults, however, doubt everything. The moment you fall off your diet/exercise regimen/budget or whatever your New Year's resolution, you're, "Can't do this, it's never going to happen," which too often morphs into "I'm a loser, a failure, might as well give up now."

When I went back to ballet class, after many years (read "decades"), I was loaded with doubts. I figured my no-longer-20-30-40 year old body wasn't up for much, but what the heck; I'd give it a try. For those of you who haven't attended a ballet class, know that it is a totally "no talking" environment. The teacher gives instructions and corrections, and the students absorb. Silently. No objections, no arguing, no talking back.

The teacher shows us a series of steps. I think, "Yeah, right. Impossible." I fumble through it. The teacher corrects me, expecting me to manage the steps. She doesn't ask me if I think I can do them, or how much pain this ridiculous position is causing me. She just corrects me -- again. So it goes, week after week.

Lo and behold, eventually, I get it right. More importantly, the teacher's belief in what was possible for me completely over-rode my belief in all that was impossible. I eventually went way beyond what I had thought imaginable.

What I learned from that ballet experience was to start any project, go for any dream, adopt my New Year's resolutions with all the reasons why it would be possible for me to achieve. And whenever I fell down, to categorically refuse to accept all the "ah, this is impossible" thoughts that would instantly come to mind.

Write down your New Year's resolution. Write all the reasons why this resolution is possible. Go for at least 10 reasons, 20 is even better. Keep your list handy so you can see it every day. Whenever you don't succeed in the moment or struggle with your resolution, review your list. Affirm to yourself all your "possibles."

Get into that "anything is possible" mindset, and go for it. Or as Robert H. Schuller famously said: "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"