New Year’s Resolutions: Setting Yourself up for Success

By February 1, 2010 November 21st, 2014 General

Success can be defined as a series of events that come together to produce a desired outcome. Failure, on the other hand, is a series of events that produce an undesirable outcome. If we really want to maximize our chances of success we must develop a plan of action literally understanding what actions or behaviors we would need to do to reach our goal. Willpower alone will not do it.

Many of us have goals to do things such as eat healthier, lose weight, quit smoking or to get fit. We have goals that cannot be attained all in one step. Therefore it is imperative to define and name the steps we need to take that will most likely allow us to achieve the greater goal.

Let’s say, for example, your goal is to lose weight. Define exactly what you mean. How much weight? How will you lose it? If you work to lose 1-2 pounds a week how many weeks will it take for you to reach your goal? What will you do if you fall off your plan? How will you work to motivate yourself? Will you exercise or diet or do both? Will you start with both right away or will you add the exercise once you get comfortable with the change in eating? Do you know what to do to eat healthier, or will you need to look for help? Can you exercise on your own or will you join a gym? So many questions.

The process can be overwhelming. It becomes easy to see why it can be difficult to be successful if you fail to plan. Take the time to understand the reasons why reaching your goal is important. Reminding yourself of the importance of your goal will be your greatest source of motivation.

Examine your current behaviors. Think about the things you will need to do differently, consider your options, and choose the ones that you are most likely to follow through on. Avoid an all or nothing attitude. Things will come up that you did not plan for, so be patient and ready to adapt the plan. If you fall off the horse get back on it as soon as possible. Consider it a bump in the road and not a failure. Every step you achieve toward your goal is a step closer than you were in the beginning.

People who are most successful at meeting their goals are the ones who make a habit of keeping the commitments they make to themselves regardless of how small they seem. If you make promises to yourself that you typically do not keep, your chance of success is compromised from the onset. Often it’s a good idea to find a friend who would buddy up with you. The two of you could work to motivate each other and to keep the steps of the goal in perspective.

Regardless of how you choose to proceed, it is imperative to recognize that most goals require a change in behavior. Given that most of our behaviors are automatic or unconscious, changing them requires us to become more mindful while working to replace one set of behaviors with a new set. Be patient with yourself (it can take a week to remember where you moved the mugs when you changed the cupboards around), expect set backs, and motivate by encouraging yourself the same way you would encourage your best friend. Remember how pleased you will feel with yourself as you become more and more successful.

Author Carol Shirley

Carol successfully counsels adults, adolescents, families in a wide range of areas including anxiety, depression, grief, loss and adjustment issues. Carol is experienced in facilitating behavioral changes in children and adolescents, reducing sibling rivalry, enhancing low self-esteem and finding alternatives to aggressive or acting-out behavior. Carol also helps both children and parents cope with the turmoil of divorce, the challenge of single parenting and softening the turmoil associated with moving to a new home or community. Carols works with parents who are seeking to improve the communication, conflict resolution and/or discipline skills. Through all of this, her gentle, accepting and sensitive manner helps make the learning and counselling process feel safe. Carol is skilled in workshops or topics such as anxiety, depression, grief/loss, learning disabilities, assertiveness, and stress reduction both generally and in the workplace. Carol is experienced in conducting, analyzing and utilizing psycho-educational aptitude and educational tests. Her work often goes beyond merely identifying attitude or achievement levels as Carol’s findings determine the manner in which the student most readily takes in and processes information. By identifying this, Carol can then help students, parents and educators to construct an efficient approach that enhances the student’s educational achievement by custom- building a strategy and approach that maximizes learning success. Whenever appropriate, Carol is comfortable going to the school and directly communicating her findings to the teachers and resource teacher. Furthermore, her availability doesn’t end when the assessment and meetings are completed. As the year progresses, Carol can serve as an advocate for the student and bridge any misunderstanding between parent, teacher and student. This follow-through is critically important to minimize the chance of misunderstanding, labeling, frustration, acting-out behavior and ultimately long-term failure and deeply entrenched negative self-esteem.

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