Whether you like them or not, New Year’s resolutions are great to create a positive change in your life.
Maybe you always wanted to start a business, read a book a week, get a six-pack, or meditate more. The start of every year is the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button and do things differently.
But I bet you’ve read all the articles and research that say New Year’s resolutions are useless and that they hardly work. Some say 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail.1Source: US News
But that doesn’t necessarily mean New Year’s resolutions are bad. It means that most of us don’t know how to successfully keep our resolutions.
Everybody can set goals. But a small percentage of people actually persevere and achieve their goals. Steve Jobs believed that people achieved their goals because they don’t quit. Most of us quit before we even get close to becoming successful.
You and I both know there are no such things as secrets when it comes to personal success. Every piece of new advice you hear has been said before. The real secret lies in how well you execute the advice.
Because here’s the secret to successful New Year’s resolutions: Don’t talk about your resolutions until you’ve made them happen.
You see? There’s nothing new about the idea that we should not talk about our goals because we’re less likely to achieve them.
But how well have you executed that advice? If you’re like most of us, the answer is probably something like, “I didn’t talk about my goals for a week. But I HAD to tell my BFF about it!”
Look, when I say don’t talk about your New Year’s resolutions, I’m dead serious. Like, “don’t even tell your spouse what you’re doing” serious.
Also don’t tell your brother, mother, father, best friend, or even a stranger. Only tell others about what you’ve done after you actually did it or formed the habit.
Why? Here are 4 reasons:
1. You’re more likely to succeed
Research says that it takes 66 days on average to form a new habit. But you probably won’t get past day three if you tell everyone about your resolutions.
We all know how these things go. “You?! Do you really want to quit smoking again?” Even though our friends and family don’t mean to discourage us, they often do with their remarks.
I can tell you to stop caring about what others think — which is good advice. But you know what’s better? Don’t give people a chance to say anything. In fact, research even backs this up.
Studies show that people who talked about their goals actually spent less time pursuing their goals than people who didn’t talk.
Keep your goals and resolutions to yourself. There will be no comments from others. And there will also be no distractions. That gives you more time and energy to focus on your actions.
2. No waste of time and energy
Every minute you spend talking about doing something is a waste of precious time. I take this very seriously. You might think that a few minutes of talking about your goals won’t do any harm. But you’re wrong.
You’re wasting the two most important resources you have. Both time and energy should be treated with care.
Plus, who are you doing all this for? Do you want to lose weight to impress others? Or read more just because some blogger told you so?
Don’t fool yourself. None of that shit should matter to you. The only drive that’s sustainable is an internal one. You do things for yourself and the people who truly matter in your life.
3. More anticipation
For me, this is the most important thing. When you set a goal or trying to form a new habit, it’s much better to talk about it in the past tense.
When I started working out daily at the beginning of 2016, I didn’t brag about it to anyone. And when the topic came up with friends, I still didn’t mention my goal.
Instead, I looked forward to telling my friends that I actually did it. Now, my initial plan was to not talk about my resolution for a whole year. But after four to five months, I felt that the habit was ingrained in my system enough that I felt comfortable talking about it more.
And that’s how I do everything. I don’t say that I’m writing a book unless I’m almost done. Because, what’s the point? No one is going to help you write your book, lose weight, quit smoking, read a book, get your degree, and so forth. You have to do those things.
If you want to talk to someone, I recommend talking to yourself in your journal. If you don’t know how to journal, check out this article I wrote with a few tips that might help.
4. You put an emphasis on action
Let’s face it. Doing something is better than saying you’re going to do something. No one can argue with that.
We all know that nothing will ever happen without action. But what we don’t know is how important motivation and inspiration is in our life.
Every single person in life needs a reason to change. And sure, it has to come from within. But you also need outside inspiration — a kick in the ass to get started.
New Year’s resolutions are just that. Instead of saying that you don’t need resolutions, use them (just don’t talk about it). Improve your life.
And if you do it right, you’ll be the one who’s laughing 12 months from now —not the idiots who mock New Year’s resolutions.
Finally, a few practical tips to make your resolutions stick even better
- Keep It Small — If you want to start a business, you’re probably not going to make a million bucks in the first year. It’s not about setting low goals. It’s about thinking big and acting small. You’ll achieve those big goals in time.
- Measure Your Progress — If you don’t measure your progress, it’s safe to say that you are not making any. Find a relevant measure and record it every single day. Yes, every day. If you want to change, you better be serious about it.
- Be Accountable To Yourself — We’ve all heard about accountability partners, etc. I’ve experimented with it too. But I think that one of the most important skills you can learn in life is to be self-reliant. See this as an exercise to improve your sense of accountability. To do that, you need a real reason to change. Maybe you want to buy your parents a big house, play soccer with your kids, or travel the world. It must be something bigger than you.
Anyone who’s serious about changing something about their life can do it. It doesn’t matter if you failed in the past. Maybe you handle it wrong. What matters is that go for it now.