Bruce Elkin is a life/work renewal coach and author of several
books, including, Simplicity and Success: Creating the Life You Long For
Is hockey dying as our
THE NEW YEAR IS a great time to take stock, set goals and plan for the
year you want to create. But don’t make conventional resolutions. Those
problem-focused, self-imposed demands and processes are all but impossible
to live up to. Here’s how to make resolutions that stand a good chance of
1. Think about your resolutions in terms of the results you want rather than problems
you have to overcome. For example, saying, “I’m going to lose that tummy fat” is depressing.
It saps energy and usually prevents people from acting. Instead, make a results-oriented
resolution, such as “A lean, trim tummy.” That’s something to feel good about.
2. Choose your results. Saying to yourself “I choose” and then adding a result is more
powerful than simply wishing, hoping or wondering, “What if?” Then state your choice out
loud; that has even more power.
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3. Avoid comparisons. “Slimmer” doesn’t say much. Slimmer than what, who, by how
much? Just state the desired outcome. “Weigh x pounds, with a y-inch waist.”
4. Frame your resolutions as results as opposed to processes. For example, “Diet away
10 pounds of fat” focuses on the process of dieting, which again is a turn-off. So focus on the
result you want: “Weigh x pounds, fit into size y slacks, feel proud of my lean tummy.”
5. Don’t “should” on yourself! (You know what that is: “I should,” “I must,” “I ought to,”
etc.) Make your resolutions desires, not demands. There is a big difference between saying,
“I want a lean, trim tummy,” and “I should get slimmer.” Say both those statements to yourself and notice how you feel. Which has more power?
6. Take action. Desired results do not manifest on their own. Even a little action each day
helps. More action helps more.
Resolutions framed this way do work. So try it this new year and get ready to see and feel
a big difference in the results you create. C
from experts in the field:
NEW YEAR’S resolutions have a short life. Twenty-five per cent of people who
make resolutions give up trying to keep them by the end of the first week.
New Year’s resolutions often target a change in health behaviour such as quit-ting smoking, initiating an exercise program or dieting to lose weight. We tend to
underestimate how difficult it is to change and maintain it. Indeed, we have an
optimism bias: “I’m different from everyone else and more likely to succeed.”
During the pleasure and social pressure of a New Year’s get-together, we jump at making a change
commitment before we are ready.
Dr. Harvey Skinner a psychologist, is the founding dean of the
new Faculty of Health at York University, Toronto.
Even those who are ultimately successful at self-change usually make five or six serious
attempts before achieving success. One study found that those who fail this year at their New
Year’s resolution have a 60 per cent chance of making the same resolution again next year. This
cycle of failure and renewed effort has been termed the “false hope syndrome” by psychologists
Janet Polivy and Peter Herman.
If you want to be more successful, consider three factors.
First, take a look at your readiness for change. Most people are not at a point where they are
amply prepared to take action. Many are just thinking about change or are not yet considering it.
You need to reach a point where the benefits of the proposed change outweigh your concerns.
Second, examine the importance of the proposed change. What is good about your current
behaviour and what are your concerns? What would it take for you to seriously consider chang-
ing? Are you making this choice because you want to or because you feel pressured or think you
should do it to please someone else?
Third, build confidence that you can achieve lasting change. Repeated failures after New
Year’s resolutions eat away at confidence. Instead, think about what you have learned from previous attempts and what you will do differently this time. What emotional and practical supports
do you need? What tripped you up in the past? Talk to others who have been successful and find
out what worked for them. These steps—not “resolving”—will help increase your confidence in
being able to achieve a goal. C
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 The Costco Connection 13
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