Making it work

The science of keeping your New Year’s resolutions

By Gerald McGroarty,

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The art and science New YearsDon’t you just love the start of a new year? It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card that lets us put all the things we didn’t like about the previous 365 days behind us and push the reset button for the next 12 months.

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve you can hear the clichés ricochet off the walls: “Bring it on!,” “It’s got to be better than last year;” “This is going to be my year;” and everyone’s favourite — “Got any New Year’s resolutions?” Wow, that last one can put a damper on your party really fast.

New Year’s resolutions are funny things. They’re filled with hope and optimism but they also have this underlying dark side of anxiety and missed opportunity. It’s a game of managing expectations mixed in with a little bit of liar’s poker. It’s not that we’re trying to kid ourselves — it’s just that it seems so hard to actually follow through on our good intentions.

The reasons for not sticking to goals are many. Lack of willpower, procrastination, lack of time, unrealistic goal-setting, lack of money, lack of energy, low self-confidence and the fear of failure usually top the list. But regardless of the obstacle, if the desire is there, then there’s hope for all of us.

So to kick-start this New Year, we’re bringing in an expert to help make this year your best year.

Gene Hayden is the best-selling author of The Follow-Through Factor: Getting from Doubt to Done. It’s an excellent read chock-full of strategies on how to achieve your goals.

In her book, Hayden identifies 15 hurdles that typically get between us and our goals. Whether you want to launch a business, embark on a new project in the workplace, lose weight, create and stick to a budget, run a marathon or travel the world, you are going to have to problem-solve your way over some obstacles.

“The follow-through factor is a deal you make with yourself,” says Hayden. “You acquire the follow-through factor when you recognize that your goal is your story. And you shake hands with yourself on the promise that you are going to see your story through to completion. At that point, you see obstacles as cliffhangers in your story, and like a writer who plots out a novel, you get hooked on how you will resolve them.”

Knocking down these barriers is much easier when you have a better understanding of what makes you tick and become fully engaged in the process of goal achievement.

According to Hayden, people who have the follow-through factor know these secrets:

  • Create a plan. The number-one reason people drop a project is because they stop feeling the love for it 24/7 and figure it’s not their passion. But projects are like people — they have a mix of admirable and irritating traits. Some days you like the thing you’re doing and some days you’re really not so sure about it. Keep with it, because when you stick with a plan through thick and thin, your interest in it doesn’t diminish, it grows.
  • Start right away. You don’t have to know as much as you think you do to achieve your ambition. When you don’t have a clue, all you have to do is ask the question that launched a thousand success stories: “What do I need to find out first?”
  • Small steps count. When you’re feeling world-weary, taking even the tiniest micro-step toward your goal gives you a shot of energy. It’s less draining to do something than to wrestle with the guilt of inaction.
  • Stick with it. Every project gets tedious at times, but stick with it through the boredom, even though it’s making your stomach knot. Eventually it will give way to something rewarding.
  • Don’t let others discourage you. Skeptics and naysayers want to keep your world as small as theirs. So when you push back at fear, make sure it’s your own fear you’re tackling and not other people’s.

Achieving your goals is a state of mind more than a state of circumstances. Perseverance will carry you through the tough times, and the ability to crush your fears will help realize your goals.

Why not make today the day you make that deal with yourself? Kick procrastination to the side and move forward with everything you’ve got, and make this year the Year of the Follow-Through.

Have a fantastic year, everyone!

More tips and tools to make the New Year bright:

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