Dale Berry, CP, Results Coach

If you're like most people, the majority of your New Year's resolutions become New Year's delusions by the end of February. Less than 30% of New Years Resolutions ever achieve success, but year after year, we stick with tradition. On New Years Eve, many of us make (or consider making) a resolution to achieve a personal goal. This is the opportunity for a clean start, you're once a year opening to take on a new challenge and achieve something worth while. Want to make a difference this year? Here are 10 keys to achieving results with your resolution for the New Year.


A significant number of people make their resolutions at the last minute, sometimes a minute before midnight, in response to someone asking "what's your New Year's resolution?" An important fact about resolutions is resolutions do not need to be declared at the stroke of midnight, or on New Year's day for that matter. Take your time; make a realistic resolution, one that you have considered and you believe can be accomplished. No need to make it life changing, profound or of great significance to others. Make a resolution that has meaning and significance to you. If you are always in a rush in the morning, resolve to wake up 15-30 minutes earlier than you usually do to give yourself more time to prepare for the day. If your house is always cluttered, resolve to clean or straighten up one room a week, or perhaps resolve never to go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. If you are feeling isolated because you live far away from family or friends, resolve to write a personal letter once a month. All of these are simple resolutions, not excessive or taking on too much of a burden, but they are resolutions that are obtainable and will make a positive impact on your year. Put some thought into it, make it a resolution that has some meaning and a level of purpose in your life.


Do not make a resolution that is unreasonable or next too impossible to obtain, you are only setting yourself up to be discouraged and disappointed. One of the more popular resolutions is "I am going to get in shape" or "I am going to start exercising every day." As yourself, do you exercise now? What will magically happen on December 31 that will transform you into a person to have the will power to exercise every day, or change your diet or stop smoking overnight? Do not make an "all or nothing" resolution. Set a goal that can be achieved in steps or phases, one that you have a chance of being successful at. If you have never exercised and want to start, make a resolution to exercise 15-20 minutes every second day, something simple, something that you can achieve. If by March you determine your initial goal was too easy to achieve, there is nothing in the resolution rulebook that prevents you from adjusting your resolution to a higher standard, or even declaring a revised resolution with a whole new goal.


Most resolutions fall into one of two categories, you either want to start doing something new (exercise, diet, eat better, save money, travel more) or you want to stop doing something (smoking, drinking, watching too much TV, excessive shopping, running up debt). The major challenge with both types is they focus on the action of stopping or starting something and they typically lack exact specifics. Take for example one of the most popular resolutions, "I want to lose weight." Not only does this resolution lack specifics, but it has no positive focus on a true accomplishment. Some suggest it is better to be specific as to how much weight you want to lose, again, the focus is not on the outcome but on the on the work. The focus of your resolution needs to be on the outcome. If you weight 180 pounds and you want to lose 30 pounds, then your resolution is "I want to weight 150 pounds this year" Now you have a specific goal, you have a target, you know what you are working towards and what you want to achieve. If you want to save money, how much money do you want in the bank by the end of the year? Your resolution is I want to have "X" dollars by the end of the year. If you want to stop smoking, your resolution is "I will be a non-smoker by the end of the year." Whatever your resolution, word it so it is specific and focused on the outcome and the results you want.


What is the difference between a goal and a dream? A goal is a dream with a deadline. It makes a huge impact on your ability to obtain a resolution when you can attach a specific timetable and deadline to achieve your resolution. If, for example, you want to save money, set a goal of how much money you want to save for the year, divide that amount by 52 weeks and now you have a new goal of how much you need to save every week to make your resolution a success. Whatever your resolution, you need to acknowledge that, if it is a worthwhile resolution, it will take time and effort. By setting a timetable and a deadline, you will be able to track your progress to achieve the resolution you desire.


For many, making a resolution is like diving into the deep end of a pool and then noticing on the way down there is no water in the pool. It makes sense that if you are serious about achieving resolution results a little pre-planning might be a worthwhile effort. The second most popular New Year's resolution is to get in shape and January is typically when most gyms see the highest number of new members. Just because you join a gym does not mean you will be in shape. You need to do more than join; you need to take a serious look at your weekly calendar and schedule time to actually go to the gym. Whatever your resolution, take time to assess how much time and effort it will take to ensure success and then schedule the time and make the effort to make your plan deliver resolution.


If you are taking on a new resolution, it stands to reason that it most likely is something you have never accomplished before, because if you had been successful in the past, then there would be no need to make it a new resolution now. So, if this is a new challenge, or something that you have been unable to accomplish in the past, does it not stand to reason that you may need some help to ensure your success? Do some research by checking resources on the Internet, or do it the old fashion way and go the library. Look in the paper, the yellow pages; ask a friend or a family member, the important thing is to explore resources to educate yourself on techniques and skills that assist you in achieving your resolutions.


Your resolution may have been near the top of your list of things to do on January 1, but after a few months, it has a tendency to slowly work its way down the list. In many instances, your resolution actually falls off the "to-do" list. One way to combat this challenge is to create a simple prompt that you will see everyday to remind you of your resolution. The easiest thing to do is to write your resolution down on a small piece of paper and tape it to the mirror in your bathroom. This way, every morning you will see the note and remind yourself of your resolution. For the computer savvy individual, you can set up your daily or weekly schedule to give you an auto-reminder of you resolution.


Most people start the New Year with lot of enthusiasm and energy to ensure their resolution will be a success. Then after a while, the excitement goes away and not long after you realize you have gone for a whole 3 weeks without adhering to your resolution. Perhaps you stopped going to the gym to work out for a few weeks or you started smoking again or stopped your diet because of a very stressful situation at work. Don't panic, your commitment to your resolution is not destroyed. Remember, your resolution is for the entire New Year, which gives you a total of 52 weeks, a whole 365 days to accomplish your goal. So what if you stopped your resolution for a week, or even a month, there is no reason you cannot start up again where you left off. Why wait until next December 31 to re-start the same resolution you made last year? Start today, you can start a resolution any day you want to.


A great way to ensure success is to find a New Year's Resolution partner. It may be a friend, someone from work or church or a family member. Ask around and find someone who is serious about making their New Year's Resolution as success. Make an agreement to meet at least once a month, perhaps for lunch or for coffee, to discuss your resolution, provide updates and to give each other support. Exchange e-mail updates on a weekly basis. Having someone to talk to about your resolution and hearing about someone else's resolution is a powerful motivator.


Don't forget to reward yourself for achieving success. You have made a significant commitment to do something important and meaningful; you need to be commended for your initiative and must be rewarded for your effort. Make a decision of what your reward will be, make it something personal and special. It does not need to be luxurious or expensive, it can be something simple and obtainable like a one-hour massage, or a weekend stay at local hotel that has a pool. Pamper yourself; do not be afraid to treat yourself to a little reward every month for sticking to your resolve to achieve your resolution. Use your imagination; make it something that you would not normally treat yourself to, because you earned it.

Your New Year's Resolution can be achieved. A year from now, on December 31, you will have two things to celebrate. First, you have achieved your resolution from last year, something the majority of New Year merrymakers barely remember. Second, you now know you have what it takes to accomplish the new resolution you will make for next year.


Dale Berry, is a professional public speaker and author of the book RESULTS, There's No Such Word as Can't. He is a practicing Certified Prosthetist and Director of Clinical Operations for nations largest Rehabilitation Corporation. Dale can be reached in Minneapolis by fax at (952) 943-9562.