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Change the way you think about New Year's resolutions for success

Millions of us set out each January with the best intentions of forging a new self. Usually by mid-February you’re throwing out spoiled uneaten vegetables or have that pair of running shoes collecting dust and mocking you from the corner of your closet. I know, I’ve been there…a lot. But there’s hope for us all. Over the past couple of years I’ve revamped my resolution process and have finally started. The change? I start my resolutions sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving each year and it’s done wonders for my success rate. I’ve pulled out the reasons why I think it has helped me and why you should consider ditching ‘New Years resolutions’ for Halloween / Thanksgiving/ Harvest Moon / Veteran’s Day or whatever works for you. From my experience, the only real requirements is you start between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Here are some of the reasons I’ve found that really make these resolutions and goals stick. Iron out the details

Getting the logistics for your new goal can go a long way to increasing your success rate. Hiccups early in the process can easily derail your best laid plans and intentions. Ever been to a new gym and couldn’t find anywhere to park, have all the treadmills full, trying to figure out how to just run for 15 min, where the locker rooms are, how to set up the machines, or how much weight you feel comfortable with? It’s a lot to deal with. The idea is to keep the friction to a minimum. You should be breaking a sweat while doing the actual exercise, not trying to get it started.

Another crucial aspect to success is finding out the times that work best for you. The internet loves talking about the benefits of waking up super early each day and getting tons of stuff done. It’s just not for everyone and that’s fine. I’m an early bird but found the mornings aren’t the best time for my workouts. After some tinkering, I found the best time for me to get my workouts in is around lunch time.

Giving yourself a head start on your resolutions gives you some extra time and room to tinker with this part and figure out what works best for you. That’s one of the biggest keys to developing a consistent routine. Getting a head start is also another huge perk to starting at the end of the year

Giving yourself a head start

Self improvement and personal development isn’t a race, but it sure feels like it. The whole idea of beginning anew at the beginning of the new year goes back thousands of years. Something about the clean slate of a new year really breathes life into your goals and aspirations. That’s great, but what if you could have that and be 6 weeks into your journey. That’s about the amount of time it takes to start seeing meaningful results which can really tip the scales in your favor. Again, it’s all about lowering the friction as much as possible to focus on your goal. Getting an early start gives allowance for some hiccups along the way and that’s all part of the process. One of my favorite reasons for starting early is it give you permission to fail. Permission to fail

Starting early gives you a safe space to try something and fail with much lower stakes. Missing a few days or a week takes a much smaller hit to your self confidence when you start early. Frame it in your mind like a dry run. If you start to make solid progress, great! If not, you’re still better equipped than you were to succeed. You now know what tripped you up and can take steps to mitigate against it. This has been one of the most impactful reasons for starting early for me. I will, without fail, slip up. This makes it so much easier to get back on track while gaining a better understanding of what it will take for me to stay the course. Remember, failing is fine as long as we come away better from it. Failing early in a safe space has lead to another important aspect to starting early.

Examine your Why

Taking some time to reflect why your goals are on your list in the first place can be just as impactful as accomplishing your goal. Getting to your Why can transform the goal into something that’s going to be burned into your brain instead of a reminder written on a sticky note. On the surface, setting goals for improvement seems like a no-brainier. Why wouldn’t you want to better yourself?

Digging a little deeper can take something that seems superficial on the surface to something incredibly meaningful and impactful. Getting to the root of the Why can take “I want to loose 10 pounds” to “I want to adopt a healthier lifestyle for my family and myself”

Looking at those two, which do you think has a better chance at success? The first one is the motivation to start, the second is the discipline to continue.

Find your Keystone Habits

Keystone habits are something I stumbled upon accidentally, before I knew there was a name and concept behind it. The year I finally started making meaningful progress on my goals, I had 3 main habits I wanted to work on: Meditation, Exercise and Reading. I drew a triangle and placed mediation at the top and made that the priority since it seemed like the ‘easiest’. Meaning it required no equipment, no changing clothes, no specific location and was something that I could practice pretty much anywhere I could get 10–15 min to myself. It fed into making progress on my other goals. When reading Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, I came across a great explanation of what was happening. I’ll be covering Keystone Habits in more detail on another article, but here’s a great explanation from the book

Keystone habits are “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”

For me it was meditation. Knowing that, I’ve made that habit a priority since I know it will trickle down into the other area I’m trying to improve. For you, it could be exercise, diet, getting more sleep, or reading more. Just know that there’s is likely something that will serve as the linchpin to holding your progress together. Don’t be afraid to tinker with your routine to find it, that’s the whole point to start early.

Resolving to Resolve

In a list of the top 10 most popular resolutions for 2020, do you know what number 1 was? Actually doing your New Year’s resolution.

Seriously, the number one resolution was just about keeping resolutions, something 164 million adults set out to do every year. Only around 8% accomplished what they set out to do.

This will be the first year I can remember that I’m actually happy with the progress I’ve made and my resolutions are to continue and refine my resolutions from last year.

Don’t get stuck thinking these goals are only something that can only be undertaken each January. Don’t be afraid to start monthly or quarterly resolutions. The main idea is to find what sticks for you and make meaningful adjustments and improvements.

Do you have some keystone habits or methods you’ve used to climb into the 8% that accomplish their resolutions (new year’s or otherwise), let me know in the comments!