The Howells Group Blog

Don’t Give Up! 5 Steps to Recharge Your Resolutions!

Illustration by Abbey Lossing

Illustration by Abbey Lossing

You probably aren’t surprised to know that most new year’s resolutions don’t last even one month. The second Friday in January is the fateful day when most resolutions dissolve. That’s right,  hardly a two-week shelf life for most goals. So instead of giving up, resolve to ‘recharge’ your 2020 resolutions with the following five steps:

1. Reduce the number of your goals. Two goals you stick with and achieve are far more effective than setting five goals that fizzle! In fact, setting two goals that are interdependent with each another actually reinforces success. For example, losing 15 pounds and working out 3x a week with a buddy incorporates three goals: weight loss, exercise and time with a friend or spouse. Each time you achieve a goal and experience a related reward, it intrinsically motivates you to set and achieve another goal. Think of it as a positive, upward spiral.

2. Create new habits using visual cues. Bestselling author, Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit asserts that it’s most effective to work in concert with our brain to form new habits. Habits are formed with visual cues/which then provide rewards/which in turn reinforce them. So-I’m in the kitchen in the morning and I see the coffee maker. Time to drink coffee to wake up. A totally well-honed habit for me! Reward? I feel more alert and attuned to a new day, not to mention that it smells and tastes delicious. I see my computer – that signals me to check email. Reward? I experience an action that feels like accomplishment, which builds momentum to complete another task. Putting jogging shoes in the same place each day can signal ‘it’s time for a run’, or placing your current priority list on your office desk can signal you to start with the most difficult task first. Habits are efficient, conserve energy, and establish routines.

3. Don’t sweat an occasional slip up. Interviewed on NPR, Dr. John Norcross shared that 53 percent of those who kept their New Year’s resolutions for two years experienced at least one slip-up, and the average number of slips was 14. But what distinguished the people who managed to maintain their resolutions from the ones who didn’t was that they plowed on. “Early slips do not predict failure,” Norcross told Time in 2018. “In fact, many ultimately successful resolvers report—even as they experience them—that the early slips strengthen their resolutions.”

4. Create a buddy system for accountability. I can’t say enough about the power of relational and social support from committed accountability partner. It’s made a huge difference for me personally and can be the difference between sticking to your resolution for a couple weeks versus a couple of years. “The research-informed explanation is that virtually anybody can get through a couple weeks with a neutral or even toxic environment, but that begins to weigh heavily,” Norcross told Time. Having a friend or family member to motivate you and hold you accountable can help you avoid becoming a statistic in 2020. I have a friend of 35 years who holds me accountable for my spiritual growth and goals. I’ve joined a writer’s accountability group to help me grow new writing habits. Even as a coach myself, I’ve hired a skilled coach who helps me stay on track and sane; to keep going when I doubt, fear or get lazy. (Yes, it does take a village people!)

5. Expect and battle self- sabotage. That old quote is true; we are often our worst enemy – and ferocious self-critics! Author and coach Tara Mohr’s work on managing the self -critic that resides in our head has been transformational for me and our clients. Mohr encourages us to give up on “killing” the critic; but instead to strategically manage it. Learn to distinguish and recognize the critic’s voice, talk back to it; kindly for trying to keep you safe but assertively to go take a nap or a hike! Then, name the critic to personify the exaggerated fear it often originates from – I’ve named mine “Cruella” because she talks to me in ways I’d never speak to anyone else. One of my clients has a Mason Jar she uses to visually place her critic in while she’s working at creative pursuits. When the lid is on, the critic is contained.

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