People are always making resolutions to accomplish new goals. But, as everyone knows, the resolution is the easy part, carrying through is the hard part. This time of year, many are making their New Year’s resolutions, but studies have shown that only about half of those will actually achieve their goals.
So, what can you do to improve your chances of keeping those resolutions? Here are a few ways that psychologists have developed based on observation.
1. Your resolutions should be in the form of a habit instead of a goal.
Goals are big, hairy things that can be intimidating and hard to get our arms around. Habits, on the other hand, are simple, easy to do behaviors. For example, losing weight is a big goal with a lot of moving parts, and a lot of opportunities for failure. Instead, reduce that goal to something more like a habit – like, for example, eating a bowl of oatmeal each morning.
Another big goal might be learning a new language. You can reduce that to a habit too. For example, each morning while having your oatmeal for breakfast, memorize three new words.
An important thing to remember about habits, however, is that they are activated more or less automatically by something else. Something else happens that causes the behavior to take place, like falling dominoes. There is something that happens that gives you the signal to do the action.
2. Give yourself a reward.
Giving yourself some type of reward for the behavior helps you to keep it up as well. This could be something as simple as cheering yourself on, giving yourself a little pep talk.
3. Realize that you are going to encounter problems.
Backsliding is inevitable, so understand that it is going to occur and don’t let it get you down. How you recover from failure is more important.
What will help with the backsliding is doing a little planning. Think ahead about what might get in the way of performing your daily routine. Then think about what you will do to handle that obstacle.
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