Well it’s that time of year again. The time where folks all around the world mark on their calendars as THE DAY to change everything.
They resolve to lose weight, they resolve to hit the gym, they resolve to TAKE ON THE WORLD! One by one, they sign up for exercise classes, gym memberships, and personal trainers looking for that road to physical salvation. Almost immediately, they change their eating completely.
Some, not really knowing HOW to do this successfully, may go from having a diet higher in processed and fried foods, straight to one so scare that even a rabbit would turn its nose up at it. Fast forward a few weeks later, maybe a month, or maybe 2 – they’ve thrown in the towel…
Another resolution bites the dust, and they give up – only to revisit the same goal YET again next year, leading to the SAME outcome. This sound familiar? Well, as someone who makes this a lifestyle, I can tell you right now, I’ve had my fair share of the New Year’s “Resolvers” come and seek my council.
What’s different about those that I’ve worked with is that many of them have succeeded in their goals. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’ve been able to take a step by step look at what needs to be done for them to truly succeed – and map it out into something they can grasp and execute.
Enter the topic of our article today:
Creating An Action Plan For YOUR New Year’s Success.
Let’s not kid anyone, many people will embark on this Resolution journey, despite the overwhelming failure rate of seeing their goals through. But the old adage that comes to mind for all of you is this:
Failing to Plan, IS PLANNING TO FAIL.
To further your case towards the positive, there are three studies in particular that point to the fact that those who resolve to change for the better in the New Year, and employ strategies that lead to behavioral changes, will not only see success towards their New Year’s goals, but will also see success down the line as well.
Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers.
Resolvers reported higher rates of success than nonresolvers; at six months, 46% of the resolvers were continuously successful compared to 4% of the nonresolvers…. Once into the new year, successful resolvers employed more cognitive-behavioral processes but fewer awareness-generating and emotion-enhancing processes than nonsuccessful resolvers.
Ringing in the new year: the change processes and reported outcomes of resolutions.
Readiness to change and self-efficacy, but not social support or behavioral skills, prospectively predicted successful outcome at both one week and one month. Successful resolvers were also found to report employing significantly more behavioral strategies and less self-blame and wishful thinking than unsuccessful resolvers.
The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts.
Successful resolvers reported employing significantly more stimulus control, reinforcement, and willpower than the unsuccessful over the 2 years; social support and interpersonal strategies failed to predict success before 6 months but did so thereafter.
So as you can see, if you plan for your success, and follow through with those goals, you can be successful. So let’s take a look at Creating An Action Plan For YOUR New Year’s Success. For this task, let’s break things up into a 5 step process. Shall we begin:
Step 1. Create Your Goal, Visualize The End Result, and Make It Mean Something Deeper To You
It’s one thing to make a resolution, but it’s a whole different thing to truly visualize and see your end result, even before you see it. Believing that triumph can, and will, be yours already sets you up for success, bringing forth a positive and motivating beginning to your journey. It can be hard to pin down numbers, but a goal of saying “I want to lose 10 pounds” is only the beginning. Take it further, make it something that TRULY means something to you. Maybe you have a favorite pair of jeans that no longer fit and you want to wear them once again. But I challenge you to take it EVEN FURTHER THAN THAT, into something more intrinsic. So now, perhaps you want to commit to tie in consistently sticking to the gym a minimum of 2-3 days, or more, a week. These are things that can keep you motivated, without fixating on a number. They are also things that can be modifiable behavior wise, and can help to lead to the end result.
Step 2. Create Attainable and Measurable Milestones
So now that you know exactly what you want, it’s time to set up an official timeline. The first step will be setting up milestones for change and progress. For our purposes, let’s define milestones as the pit stops along the way of your path to success. So if the goals you set are all a part of the “grand scheme” of what you ultimately want to accomplish, milestones are like the steps along that road that will bring you closer to the end result – all while keeping you motivated. So for some of you that may mean to make milestones like:
In 1 month from today, committing to doing a weight training workout three times a week.
In 21 days, working up to drinking one gallon of water per day
By January 15th, curtail alcohol consumption to the weekend or for special occasions only.
As you can see, they aren’t simply goals for specific physical change, but they are instead goals that will lend TOWARDS that overall “grand scheme”. These milestones also become triumphs in changing current behaviors that may be holding you back from succeeding.
Step 3. Schedule and Set Dates Leading Up To Your Ultimate Goal
How many times have you missed a workout simply because “something comes up”. I always say to clients that it’s a good idea to write your workouts into your schedule, just as you would for any other appointment. And if something truly does disrupt your schedule, you’ll simply change the gym workout to another day – just like you’d do for any other appointment. The FIRST STEP to success is committing. In committing your workouts to your schedule as a regular on-going appointment, you’re more apt to stick to things in the long term. Remember it’s changing habits and behaviors that will ultimately lead to the end result.
Step 4. Create a
Vision Action Board To Keep You Motivated Daily
I love the power of visualization. As I had suggested to you in step one, seeing your end result before you even “see” it is key to keeping yourself racing towards that finish line. It’s one thing to see things in your head, but it’s a completely DIFFERENT BEAST seeing that vision in front of you tangibly. Creating one is so easy! You can find some awesome tutorials online, and to make things even easier, there are a ton of apps that you can use to create one on multiple platforms. You can even use sites like Pintrest. Your options are plentiful.
The main objective is to KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, SEE WHAT YOU WANT, AND WORK DILIGENTLY TO GETTING EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT. But when you create your vision board, I want you to do one thing… Don’t just include images of the end result. Include those things that are instead a part of the daily process. Photos of people in the gym, photos of women performing exercises, photos of healthy foods and an ice cool glass of water. Include things that are a part of the PROCESS, as well as things that represent where you want to be. The ideal is to always remain rooted in reality.
Up to this point, our focus has been creating attainable milestones and triumphs. So allowing yourself to be inspired by the things you can do RIGHT NOW is even more effective in the long term than constantly, and solely, focusing on the future.
Step 5. Stick to Your Action Plan – Even if You Have To Change The Goal Date
The one thing you must remember before even embarking on this journey is that it’s the CUMULATIVE effects of your efforts that will lead to your success. It’s by performing daily habits, and establishing a lifestyle that not only brings about change, but will help you to keep those changes in years to come.
Sometimes life happens, and things throw us off track. Sometimes goals get derailed, but here’s the thing, it’s not about how you fall off the horse, it’s ALWAYS about how you get back on. So even if you need to adjust your goals to give yourself more time, DON’T GIVE UP! Ever. Simply readjust your goals to fit where you are in your life. Over time, seeing that goal of yours become a reality will indeed BECOME A REALITY. So there you have it.
Construct, revisit, and adjust your action plan during this entire year. And remember, if you fail to plan, you are indeed planning to fail. Talk to us, have you ever created an action plan for success? What was the outcome?
Share this article with those in your social circle as well. Let’s get in this together!
Auld lang syne: success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Norcross JC, Mrykalo MS, Blagys MD. J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405.
Ringing in the new year: the change processes and reported outcomes of resolutions. Norcross JC, Ratzin AC, Payne D. Addict Behav. 1989;14(2):205-12. PMID: 2728957
The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. Norcross JC, Vangarelli DJ. J Subst Abuse. 1988-1989;1(2):127-34.