I realise that in my last blog post I said I didn’t believe in new year resolutions, yet I am now writing about how to make them! Does this make me illogical?

In some ways, yes.

But January is the time of the year when we often think about making changes in and developing in some area of our life. How can we increase the likelihood that we will actually succeed? I previously mentioned about how it is important not to get into the paradigm of thinking that we just need to try harder. Trying harder is often about doing more of the same and then feeling guilty at your lack of progress. So often we fail, because we carry on doing what we have always done and so end up with what we have always got. The logical response is that if you want to change a result in your life then you are going to have to change what you do.

So here are my suggestions if you want to dramatically increase the likelihood that this year’s new year resolutions actually succeed.

1. Choose your resolutions carefully.

Why are you setting yourself this particular goal? Why is it important to you? Some goals may not actually fulfil you. Is it something you feel you should do because of someone else? Instead, it is vital to choose goals you actually value and care about. How important is that goal to you on a scale of 0-10? Is it really something you want to do or is it something you have imposed on yourself because of the expectations of others?

2. Get outside help ands support.

This may seem so obvious, but I’m amazed how often I have tried to do things myself without getting the support of others. And I know I am not alone in that. By getting outside help I mean putting yourself in close proximity with those who are already accomplishing what you want to accomplish. The closer and more tangible that proximity and the closer the goals of others are to your goals, the more likely you are to succeed. So, for example, if you want to lose weight then get connected to people who also want to lose weight or at least will be supportive and encouraging to you. That is why, for example, being a part of a dieting group (or any other group that you are interested in) can be so powerful.

3. Have some kind of structure to fall back on.

The truth is that you are going to have days when nothing seems to be happening or it may even seem that you are going backwards. That is a critical moment, because the temptation will be to throw in the towel and give up. It is so easy then to feel guilty and want to forget about it until the following year! But setbacks are normal. That is why some outside structure, in the form of a plan that gets you out of yourself and your own feelings by taking the pressure off yourself is so important.

4.  Create small steps and celebrate on the way.

It is very easy to fall into what has been called the gap between where we are and where we want to be. This is particularly made worse if we have high ideals and expectations. We end up focussing on where we want to be and feel discouraged, rather than being thankful for how far we have come.

5. Distinguish between outcome goals and process goals

The fact is that there are some things in life we have no control over and some things that we can control. It’s important to ensure that the resolutions you set are about things you can actually do something about, and not things that are dependent on a variety of outside factors. For example, I cannot prevent disappointments and frustrations in my life, but I can choose how I respond to them.

These 5 keys are vital in making sure that your new year resolutions have a chance of succeeding.

In the next blog post we will look at some practical outworking of these keys.

What questions and issues around actually succeeding with new year resolutions (or any decision to change for that matter) raise with you?

Please feel free to comment.