I hope you had a truly marvellous festive season, and I wish you every success for the New Year.
If you’re like most people, you’ve got a boatload of dreams you’d like to make come true this year? And you’ve probably gone ahead and made the necessary New Year Resolutions to get you there?
I’ve got some good news for you if you make it to the end of this post, but without some help, the reality is only around 8% of people will actually achieve their resolutions in 2018 – a whopping 92% failure rate!
Even worse, 80% of resolutions have fallen by the wayside come the second week of February.
So where are we all going wrong?
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Are making resolutions we don’t really want to achieve?
It wouldn’t appear so. There have been countless surveys on the most popular New Year resolutions.
Take a look at this Top 10 list and see if you can identify with it…(list is taken from the Evening Standard)
- Eat better
- Exercise more
- Spend less money
- Self care (i.e. get more sleep)
- Read more books
- Learn a new skill
- Get a new job
- Make new friends
- Get a new hobby
- Focus more on appearance
At first glance, this list appears to be just the ticket, right? After all, who doesn’t want to be more rested, spend less money and be happier, healthier and thinner with a better appearance?
With all these aspirational and beneficial ‘goals’ just what is it that happens to us in the six-week period between the 1st January and Valentine’s Day, that makes us abandon our quest?
The answer lies in failure.
I know that seems a highly strange thing to say. But you only need to know one secret about failure and you can instantly turn defeat into victory.
I have a horrible confession to make, but it illustrates the power of this ‘failure secret’ so perfectly, I’ll share it with you…
I hate to admit it now but a long time ago I used to be a smoker. I tried for nearly 9 years to ‘give up’ smoking without success. As soon as I learned the ‘failure secret’ I was able to quit in 6 days and have never smoked a cigarette since.
The ‘failure secret’ relies on five key steps for it be successful and today you’ll learn them all, so you can set yourself up for success.
Then I’ll tell you exactly how I used each of the five steps to quit smoking in just 6 days – even though I broke my New Year’s Resolution on the very first day.
Step 1 – Knowing Where You’re Going
Take a look at this quote from Alice In Wonderland:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Knowing what you want to achieve is a must. And while the Top 10 List above looks like a good set of goals, it’s actually a list of ‘dreams’ and you’ll never actually know when you ‘arrive’.
Your goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based. You can view this article for help setting these types of goals
As an example, instead of the goal of losing weight and getting thinner, you’ll end up with something like losing 1 kilogram a month for 4 months.
Step 2 – Smaller Is Better
Really small actually!
In the battle of ‘Willpower’ vs ‘A Decade of Bad Habits’, it’s unlikely that Willpower will triumph. If you decide you’ll hit the gym 5 mornings each week, when you haven’t been for years, you might do a few weeks. But most people burn out quickly and before you know it, their fitness goals are over for another 12 months.
Instead, start with small increases from where you are right now and build upon them over time. You can revise the activity as you go along.
So, in this example, you might decide to allocate three half-hour periods of activity each week for the first 3 weeks. It doesn’t matter when during the week, but you must do something during that time. Even if it’s a 30-minute walk three times each week. By getting started like this, it’s not difficult to achieve and once you get going you can substitute the activities as you start to progress.
This leads nicely onto…
Step 3 – Generate A Routine
The quicker you can build your new activities into your routine the better. Routines are much more difficult to break once they’re established. (This is the reason New Year’s Resolutions are so hard to keep in the first place.)
The best way to start is to write your routine down and then keep adding good habits to it. There’s a book which will help you do exactly this, in as little as five minutes each day called “Habit Stacking”
Step 4 – The Failure Secret
Most of us are fearful of failure.
In fact, it’s difficult to overestimate just how fearful we really are. Lots of us self-sabotage our success in many different areas of our lives, simply because we’re afraid of failure. It’s a leading cause of procrastination and is one of the main reasons people limit themselves in life.
Many of us even make excuses for our failures before we even fail. As a result, we never even get started.
Excuses such as ‘if only I had…” or “if only I had what she had….” or “it’s easy for her because….”
The truth is we all have our own challenges and nothing worth having is easy, or else everyone would have it.
The great news is that you can have pretty much anything you want – once you embrace the ‘failure secret’.
What’s the ‘failure secret?’
You are going to fail and the quicker you get back up again , the quicker you are going to be back on the road to success.
Most people don’t build failure into their plans. They make their goals and assume they will just do the activity and get there. That there won’t be any road bumps along the way.
There will be road bumps. Many of them.
And it’s your attitude to failure which determines your success.
I’m not saying it’s easy and that leads nicely onto the next step…
Step 5 – Focusing On The Reason Why
If you’re going to pick yourself up from each failure and get back on the horse, then you need to have a good reason why you’re making the resolution in the first place.
It’s worth spending some time really focusing on this aspect of your resolutions and writing your reasons down somewhere. Many successful people review their reasons why on a daily or weekly basis.
Let’s get back to my ‘quitting smoking’ story, so you can see how these five steps come together…
My goal was simple: “To quit smoking on the 1st January”
But I also knew I would be tempted to smoke within a few hours of stopping, because of how quickly Nicotine leaves the human body.
I gave myself permission to fail. And that smoking one cigarette wasn’t the end of the world, and didn’t mean I’d failed to stop smoking. It just meant I’d had a ‘hiccup’ and needed to focus on stopping again.
My reason why was huge. My wife was 3 months pregnant with my first child, and I didn’t want him to be subjected to smoking in any form. Also, I wanted to stop 6 months before the birth, so I was completely over smoking and could enjoy being a father, instead of going through the pain of quitting with a newborn baby.
I’m ashamed to say that at the time, I used to smoke about 20-25 cigarettes each day.
I smoked my usual packet on the 31st December and went to bed sometime around 1am.
The next morning, I got up and as per my plan, drank a big glass of water and tried to keep myself occupied.
I managed to last until about 6.30pm that night, when I smoked my first cigarette of the year. I had another at 7.30pm and went to bed.
I’d broken my New Year’s Resolution within around ten hours of trying.
Failure? Yes, but I’d only smoked 2 cigarettes instead of my usual 25.
On the 2nd January, I lasted until about the same time and smoked just a single cigarette. This process repeated for 5 days and on the 5th January I smoked my very last cigarette. I was able to do this as I knew I could go about a day without one, so why not two days?
By not seeing my failure as the dream destroyed, but instead just a hiccup, I was able to keep going until I got where I needed to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I had some horrible mood swings over the first few weeks, and I wasn’t the nicest person to know. It wasn’t easy at all.
You can reach any goal you want by following the same process. It might take you longer than five days, and you might have more hiccups. So what? The only person you have to answer to is you.
It’s worth noting I only made one New Year Resolution that year. Nothing else mattered. I recommend you do the same – focus on just one thing at a time with the most important one first.
Having a strong reason why helped me enormously during those first few months.
I was completely over smoking by April and it felt amazing when my son was born a few months months later.
I haven’t looked back since.
I hope that my message helps you and instead of viewing ‘failure’ as the end of your dreams, you understand the road will be rocky from the outset. You will ‘fall off the horse’, and getting back on is the true secret to achieving everything you want.
I wish you every success in the coming year.
Phrasing your NY Resolution: https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2017/12/if-you-want-to-stick-to-a-new-years-resolution-phrase-it-diffferently/
10 most common NY Resolutions: https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/most-popular-new-years-resolution-2018-how-to-stick-to-them-a3727806.html
Percentage of NY Resolutions which fall by the wayside: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-years-resolutions-courses-2016-12/