I am a fan of resolutions in general, but New Year’s resolutions are frequently unsuccessful. Let's assume, however, that 2017 is going to be different. There is a lot of advice on how to make the change stick. Here is one you may not have heard before though: start planning for your 2017 New Year’s Resolution now.
Think about what a successful New Year’s Resolution looks like for a moment. It is probably not just a 6-week habit, or even a year-long habit, but more likely a lifelong change. To think that one can simply wake up January 1st slightly hungover and change one’s life is unrealistic. Rather, one must plan now.
Here is a hypothetical schedule:
- October -
- Consider potential New Year’s Resolutions.
- Make a decision to pursue one.
- Decide what is going to be sacrificed. There are still only 24 hours in a day, but you now have added something to your life. As a result something must be given up, whether that is another activity, time, energy, or a combination of all three. What are you no longer going to do to make time for your new change?
- November -
- Talk with other people who have achieved your resolution.
- Read three to five books on the topic.
- Create a few post-mortems. This is an exercise where you hypothetically assume everything went wrong, identify what could have caused this, and then learn from the mistakes in order to avoid actually doing them.
- December -
- Purchase the necessary equipment, supplies, or other required items. If your resolution involves waking up early, don’t start that January 1. Gradually ease into it, so come January 1 you are accustomed to waking up early.
- Create a schedule or system to track progress and foster accountability - maybe in the form of a journal or simply marking a calendar.
- Possibly test your New Year’s Resolution in advance to get an idea of anything you may not have anticipated.
- Consider what you are going to do if you have an off day or get thrown off track.
Success lies in the preparation. Starting to think about New Year’s Resolutions now initially sounds ridiculous. However, consider a successful New Year’s Resolution: it is probably a big deal. Three months of getting ready is a minimum requirement. Start thinking and planning now.