How to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions (Like a Pro)

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Winter holidays are just around the corner, and most of us are probably busy working on our list of awesome resolutions for this new exciting year that awaits us.

The tradition of new year’s resolutions is a playful way of setting goals because it shapes your upcoming year by bringing beneficial changes in your life.

Since fulfilling your new year’s resolutions is all about the power of change, we’ve decided to look for useful hacks that will help us improve our chances of success.

The push that prompted this article was a book written by two brothers, one a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the other a senior fellow at Duke University. Chip and Dan Heath are the authors of Switch: How to change things when change is hard.

The book talks about the struggles people have to face when making (bigger or smaller) changes in life. It also gives practical advice on how to use motivation and other tools that will help you make changes.

So, without further ado, here are the three most useful insights from experts that have studied the process of ‘change.

Insight #1: Goals pave the way for success.

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Most experts agree that goal setting is the ‘Holy Grail” of change. Just take a look at what a group of researchers has concluded after evaluating the relationship between goal setting and student achievement.

A correlational analysis of the goal-setting process and language proficiency scores reveals a statistically significant relationship between the goal-setting process and language achievement.

What the authors are trying to say is that the mere process of setting goals can increase your chances of success. In other words, a goal is something ‘real’ that prompts us to mobilize our mental energy and put it to good use.

A specific, bite-sized goal gives us direction and a clear perspective on how to tackle each item on our list.

Since your new year’s resolutions are a list of personal goals, the best way to increase the odds of getting things done is by using the SMART model.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

This tool was created by George T. Doran, former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company, in 1981. Since then, the SMART model has gained a lot of popularity among individuals who see it as the go-to strategy for effective goal setting.

Use this goal-setting tool to ace your resolutions like a pro.

Insight #2: Ask your friends and family for some support.

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What’s your take on failure? Did you know there’s a way to turn failure into something useful?

A lot of us think of change as this journey of self-discovery that each of us must take on our own. While this definition is not far from the truth, experts have a slightly different view.

In an article published by Psychology Today, Jeffrey A. Kottler, a renowned counselor and the author of Making Changes Last says:

It’s critical that you have a support system in place, including friends and family who will be there for you during inevitable setbacks.

Lucky for us, this insight is fairly practical even in the absence of a therapist to guide us. For example, when setting a goal, recruit a family member or friend to make your accountability partner. That way we can add some social pressure to the equation and, not least, someone who can help or lend a friendly ear during the rough patches. We all can use some support sometimes.

Mistakes and problems will always arise but the important thing is to put things in place so you keep moving forward.

That brings us to our last piece of advice which is how to deal with failure in a positive manner.

Insight 3#: Celebrate your near wins.

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Most of us can’t even stand the idea of failing, let alone the actual event, and that’s perfectly normal. Failure is mainly unpleasant and painful.

However, failure can also be insightful, educational and character-building.

At least that’s what Sarah Lewis’s highlights in her inspiring Ted talk about how to embrace the near-win. If we were to put her entire talk into one phrase, this would probably be it:

Success motivates us, but a near win can propel us on an ongoing quest.

The near win is a state of mind in which you feel grateful for having the opportunity to try. It represents your effort to turn failure into something more positive.

One easy way to do it is by making a list of all the lessons you’ve learned from each and every one of your failures.

By using this simple trick, your failures will turn into precious life lessons that push you toward perfection.

To wrap it up:

  • The SMART model will help you set reasonable goals.
  • A social support system will put you back on track when things get complicated.
  • Failures are actually near wins that deserve to be cherished and celebrated.

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