4 Ways to Stick With your New Year’s Resolutions in 2015

new-years-resolutionsA new year is just around the corner and many people will be scrambling to list all the things they’re going to do to make 2015 their best year ever. The reality, however, is that despite high hopes and the best of intentions, most people will fail to turn their New Year’s resolutions into reality.

Statistics show that the chances you’ll maintain resolutions are fairly dismal. Most studies show resolutions begin to drop off after a week and only about 40% of those who made resolutions actually stick to their goals. If you’ve had a tough time following through with your goals in the past, resolve to make 2015 different. Well, at least when it comes to playing the piano 🙂

How to Play Piano

I’m kidding of course, no matter what your goals are, whether it is playing the piano or losing weight, here are some keys points to making those New Year’s resolutions stick:

1. Believe You Can Do It

A lot of people try to create change, despite a nagging voice in their heads that says, “This will never work.” If your thoughts constantly drag you down and beat you up, your chances of success are greatly diminished. You’ll likely talk yourself out of taking action as soon as the going gets rough. Creating long-lasting change requires confidence.

If you struggle with self-doubt, write down all the evidence that suggests you’ll be able to reach your goal. Read that list daily to affirm your strengths and reduce your negative thinking. Learn to recognize and replace your irrational thoughts with more productive and helpful monologues. (For more tips on how to change your negative thinking, see my previous article Taming Your Inner Critic: 7 Steps to Silencing the Negativity).

2. Focus on only 1-2 major goals.

Figure out what your one major goal is this year. You may even have two, but that is the most major goals you should focus on. I have two major goals—one is to learn Chopin’s Piano Etude Op.10 No.4 and the second is to publish a set of kids music books.

This is the hardest part for most people because choosing just one BIG goal to pursue requires extreme focus and connection to purpose.

But, it’s really important that you stick to just 1-2 major goals. Goals are different than habit changes. Your 1-2 goals should be so big that it would take an entire year to accomplish. If you were to accomplish only these 1-2 things, you’d feel like you had a very successful year.

Examples:

  • Lose 40 pounds
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn to play an instrument proficiently
  • Learn how to code and design an app
  • Save for and take a month-long trip to backpack through Europe

Based on what you really want to accomplish—where your deepest values, passions, and skills intersect—choose 1-2 goals to focus on for the rest of the year. Don’t just aim for “reasonable.” Be a little unreasonable. What do you really want to accomplish in the next 365 days? That’s what you should make your goal. Do not let fear keep you from what you want to accomplish in your life.

music-birds

3. Don’t get Discouraged

Not matter what the goal, almost every big change in our lives involve at least one or two setbacks. Whether it’s having a snack you shouldn’t or skipping a few workouts at the gym or not keeping up your practice at the piano, most people will backslide occasionally. The way you respond to those setbacks, however, is what determines the likelihood of reaching your goals.

If you spend too much time focusing on the mistakes, you’ll likely have to kiss your New Year’s resolutions goodbye. Often, people mistakenly assume success is all or nothing – “If I mess up once, I must be a failure.” If, however, you anticipate setbacks, and only view them as temporary, you’ll increase the chances that you’ll successfully learn from your mistakes.

4. Stay Positive and Build Mental Strength

For many people, New Year’s resolutions focus on tangible changes – like losing weight, paying off debt, or quitting smoking. Although tangible – and measurable – goals are important, it’s impossible to reach those goals without mental strength.

With all goals, building mental strength will help you reach them. Just like proficiency at learning the piano requires practice, so does mental strength. Commit to building your mental muscle by conducting daily exercises that will help you get stronger. Increasing your mental strength will help you follow through with your goals, even as your motivation declines – which, for many people, is mid-January.

Rather than spend all your time thinking about what your resolution will be, focus on the strategies that will help you stay on track. Decide to make 2015 about creating a new you, complete with a plan that will help you stick to your goals throughout the year.

So here’s to a great year full of lots of piano and even more accomplished goals!
~Adrian