Your 5-Step Guide To Resolutions That Stick!


I’ve been seeing a bunch of articles lately with titles like: “why you should set intentions, not resolutions” and “New Year’s resolutions don’t work”.  And I’ve got to tell you…I don’t like it! I prefer focusing on what does work rather than what doesn't.  And I also think these things are totally personal for each of us.  If the beginning of a new calendar year resonates with you, and you want to set a resolution (or intention, or goal, or create a new habit), then go for it!  Just be sure to get clear on what matters to YOU and what feels good to YOU. What does a “resolution” mean to you?

So. If you’d like to make a positive change in 2019 (weather it be at the new year or at any other time) here’s a 5-step guide that'll ensure success! But before I get to the plan, I want to pause for a sec and talk about the word accumulate. Stay with me here. The dictionary definition is “gradually gather or acquire”…as in, “accumulate wealth”. You know what’s automatically assumed about accumulation? It takes time. Accumulating wealth generally happens with investments, earnings, and savings across time…little by little. (Otherwise it’d be a windfall.) Are you with me? Snow also accumulates. When I was a kid we had a saying “little snow big snow, big snow little snow”. It was a rule of thumb…when the teeny tiny snowflakes fall it’s a guaranteed sign that significant accumulation will happen (translation: snow day!). And when the big puffy snowflakes fall, contrary to what you’d think, not much accumulation will result. It’s the perfect reminder that progress is made up of lots of small steps forward….each little bit of effort you give accumulates to make a BIG difference!

2019 mantra: “little snow big snow”!

And now for your 5-step guide…

1.     Write it down.

Write out your resolution (I’ll use this word moving forward but substitute "intention" or "goal" whatever other word makes sense to you), describe it in detail. What will it look like? What will it feel like to achieve it? How will you determine success? Write as much detail as you can. Even if you have no idea! Imagine what life will be like once you have completed (insert resolution here).

2.     Get super-duper clear on why you want this.

A great way to figure this out is to ask yourself “why” 4 times. The response to your 4th why question is your true “why”...your deep-down, internal, motivation. Here’s an example of how to do the why exercise….resolution: I want to get back into running. Why? Because I want to complete a 5k this summer. Why? Because I want to get healthier. Why? Because I want to have more energy. Why? Because I love the outdoors and I want to do more outdoorsy things with my partner. Ah-ha! The true “why” is this person wants to "be active outdoors and share the experience with their partner”. That seems like a much more solid reason than “I want to get back into running”.

The ultimate why should always be connected to intrinsic (internal) motivation to change, not just a temporary reason, otherwise it won’t last. It won’t feel important enough and you’ll be right back where you are now.  Don’t get me wrong, extrinsic (external) motivations along the way are helpful too…such as a running buddy keeping you accountable. But ultimately, the why needs to come from your heart.

So now that you have your real “why”. Write it down. Remember it. Put it on sticky notes and post them around the house or office. Put a reminder on your phone. Don’t forget your why and you’ll be able to maintain motivation when you hit a bump.

3.     Believe that you can. And you will.

It is absolutely imperative that you BELIEVE you can achieve your goal. You might not know how to achieve it quite yet…you might need to learn a new skill, hire professional help, or do some research…but don’t worry about that yet. First, you have to really believe in yourself, believe you are capable (you are), and believe you will be successful. Picture yourself completing your goal.

4.     Map out a plan. 

Brendon Burchard, high performance guru, says "the time to have the map is before you enter the woods".  Totally!  So set yourself up with a step-by-step plan (your map) on exactly how you'll achieve your resolution before you get into it.  If it's a lofty one, chunk it out.  Break it down into smaller goals and doable steps…maybe break it down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals with the exact steps that will get you to each milestone.  If you're not sure how to figure out the steps, seek help!  Ask a friend who's already achieved what you want to achieve or seek professional guidance from a coach, therapist, or mentor.

5.     Do the work and trust the process!

Once you’ve figured out your map. Do. The. Work. Relentless forward progress (which also happens to be the title of a great trail running book) is key! Small, steady, consistent action will lead you to a whole lot of success. This is where your new 2019 mantra comes in…”little snow big snow”. It all adds up! Trust the process.  This is especially effective for the days when you feel like you're not making progress or, worse, skipping the work today won't matter.  Trust that your process is leading you to your goal and believe in relentless forward progress.  One foot in front of the other and you'll totally get there! 

Share your resolution with the community…pop it in the comments so we can cheer you on!