Thursday, January 6, 2011

Realistic Resolutions Require Recognition

Well it’s that time of year again for proclamations and promises, revelations and resolutions.  Once the holiday craze passes, it seems that the passion and energy always carry over into big hopes for the New Year.  Whether they are personal aspirations or professional goals, I’ve noticed that every year the month of January is filled with noisy declarations of self-improvement.  By mid-spring we hear and see the quiet silence of obstacles and excuses. 

People seem to need a catalyst for a life long change; something that will jump start their new ways with force and real change.  And once enough time has passed a routine is set and has less chance of being stopped or disrupted.  I heard that less than 50% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year but only 46% of these resolutions are maintained after a 6 month period.  I’m sure everyone has observed that at the beginning of the year fitness centers are packed, co-workers are ordering salads at lunch time and you’ve inherited a seemingly larger smoke-free environment. However as time goes on gym memberships are cancelled, burgers are back on the menu and the cost of cigarettes doesn’t seem so bad.  Case in point: Without the right catalyst, old habits will resurface and those once iron-clad resolutions will fade. 

So what’s going to prevent you from finding yourself in the 54% that don’t maintain their resolutions this year?  Hopefully it’s not something life-threatening like a heart attack that makes you lead a healthier life-style, or losing your job to motivate you to take your career more seriously.  Instead of taking a stab in the dark and slapping your name on a cookie-cutter resolution out of the bag, I challenge you to really think about what you would like to achieve this year and which of those things needs the most attention and commitment.  Now own it.

For example, exercise and losing weight are at the top of the list for most common New Year’s resolutions, but you can’t just say, “I’m going to lose 20 lbs” and expect it to happen.  You need to be realistic. You need to recognize why you want it. You should set a timeline so you can track your progress, and make sure you have the proper stimulus to hasten your desired results.  Another thing that helps is making a devoted commitment.  If you want to get healthy then sign up for classes at your fitness club or team up with a partner for your workouts.  Participate in a support group or a nutrition plan to eat better and potentially lose weight.  Sign up for a class or webinar that increases your industry knowledge to reinvest in your career.  See where I’m going with this…?  Desired results demand action on your part - What’s your catalyst?