New Year, new resolutions and tips on how not to fail

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ” ― Anaïs Nin

This blog was originally going to be called “New Year, Old Habits, New Habits, New Beginnings” but I realised two things. Firstly, I was being too positive and making the assumption that we would all be succeeding in our new year’s resolutions, rather than failing in the first week and secondly, the no one was really talking about the practical steps we can all take to help support and make the changes we want stick.

Come the New Year, comes the idea that we should have a “New Year’s Resolution” to do something different. Diet exercise; relationships; work/life balance; savings and spending; change of life direction; smoking; drinking; eating meat [or other types of food]; we get to January and want to make a new start.

We set out with the best intentions in the world and then work / life / family / something else, gets in the way and we fail to achieve what we have set out. Why does this happen? Let’s start with a view of why our best intentions falter…….

[A]. Change is easy

We create the idea that whatever change we want to make is going to be easy. Let’s be truthful here. Any change is hard. We are creatures of habit. Small habits, like what type of toothpaste to use, types of food we eat, the types of clothes we wear, the types of places we visit, even the type of friends and relationships we have. All are based on comfort and a reluctance to change.

[B] You assume you have a plan, are following it and are being successful.

Or as they say about “assume” you can make an ass out of you and me.Come on, really. you have a plan? We might, if we are lucky sketch out on a piece of paper or write on a diary / calendar the end point that we want to get to, but the journey in between is written in fog or not at all. You are making a life choice. Think about examples like buying a house; getting married; or moving to another country / place. Do you do these on the spur of the moment or do you think and plan for them? We are making personal changes and we should plan and celebrate milestones of achievement. More later.

[C]. Time and Milestones of achievement.

There has been a raft of research on how long it takes for a habit to “stick” and become part of your every day life. Some say 21 days, other research says as much as 66 days. Pause for a moment, please and think about the last time you made a successful change in your own habits. Go on think. From the moment you had the idea to make the change, through to the point where it became part of your life, can take anything from 1 month to 3 months. Dependant on the depth of the change; how much effort you had to put in and obviously, how much you wanted it to happen as quickly as possible.

So, we have dealt with why change resolutions falter. I want to turn it around to how you can make them successful. Oh, by the way. Even if you have started a resolution, it is still worth thinking about how to make them “stick”. And for those of you that have dropped one of your goals, you might want to think about taking some of these tips and trying again.

Understanding your “Change & Learning Styles” to achieve your goals:

How? We all use the “VAK” model in our everyday lives. What on earth is “VAK” and what does it mean? Which type of person are you? What is your preferred learning style? That is the key here. How do YOU learn….

We all have a preferred learning style, be it through looking at; listening to;or touching. These different approaches are called Visual; Auditory or Kinesthetic learning styles. If you don’t know what is your style, there are links at the bottom of this article to help you identify yours. So, how can you leverage this to achieve your goals?

Visual Aids and Tips

  • Use pictures from magazines, or from the web and place them in noticeable places in the house for example, for foods that you want to eat, rather than foods you should not
  • I saved the money when I gave up smoking. Every day I would add a £5 note to the jar. After a week, I realised that if I was to start smoking again, I would have to begin by taking out the £5 notes and burning them! After a month, I had £150 and went out and treated myself.
  • If you have put milestones on the calendar, put pictures on it, highlight key dates. If you have a smartphone, put in reminders and include positive congratulatory notes.
  • An interesting tip, is if you use a PC, tablet or smartphone and have a password, why not change the password to reflect the phrase of your goal, i.e. “I no longer smoke”. It does work. Check out this article for details:
  • Feel free to comment on examples you use….


Auditory Aids and Tips

  • Why not record yourself saying what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Then play it back to yourself.
  • If the resolution or goal involves a trip abroad, why not play the music from that place. Or the sounds of the sea if you happen to be by the sea.
  • You can use music, videos or movies to help re-enforce the places, events or activities you would like to happen.
  • Why not talk to a friend or family member and talk about the goal you want to achieve and get them to remind you on a regular basis – in a positive way – that you are doing really well

Kinesthetic Aids and Tips

  • This all involves moment, so in some respects is the most simplistic and at the same time, the most difficult to develop.
  • One of my goals for this year is to focus on exercise, so I have been focusing on standing up and movement. This encourages me to want to move more.
  • Have an object near you that you can touch. For instance, a tennis ball or golf ball if you want to learn tennis or golf.

The key elements to creating a new habit, is understanding what the goal you want; develop the routine and then reward the change. The power to positively reinforce the changes you want to make is the biggest element in any success.

As for me, I have three resolutions for 2016 and every day I am trying to achieve elements of each one. This first week back at work can only be described as manic, but even so, I have managed 3 out of 4 day to achieve my goals. Not perfect, but again, I am moving forward. I will write a separate article on my “3 words for 2016”.

I leave you with the following quote:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.


If you want to find out what you prefered learning style, you can check out these links:

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