How to Make Successful New Year’s Resolutions

How to Make Successful New Year's Resolutions by Dr. Greg Waddell

Around this time of year is when we start making resolutions for the New Year. It is also the time when we start hearing the cynical jokes like: “My resolution this year is to make no resolutions.” In this post, I want to share some ideas about why resolutions are important and how to be successful at achieving them.

Not that I have done a great job myself. This post is as much directed at myself as it is to anyone. Keeping one’s resolutions is somewhat like the advice we often hear about quitting smoking: “Never quit trying to quit smoking.” Never quit trying to keep your resolutions.

Making resolutions is one of the basic components of critical thinking. It is the way we express our nature as rational creatures that we are able to use our intellect to design plans that will lead to a higher quality of life, and then proceed to take those steps. It is the alternative to living the life of the beast that is driven by every wind of social and bodily impulses, like a ship in troubled waters that has lost its rudder.

So, assuming you are not ready to drop into cynicism of a rudderless life, and that you are willing again to take up the challenge of making New Year’s resolutions, here are the steps to success.

  1. Have a clear purpose for each resolution. Focus on the end until it become crystal clear for you. Visualize it in your mind’s eye. How will the quality of your life have improved by achieving this resolution? Some people tell me they have gained a lot of energy from building a collage with photos of the things they most value in life. They mediate on those images daily to stay motivated.
  2. Be personally positive. What ever happened to positive thinking? It seems that cynicism has become fashionable these days. There is power in positive thinking.
  3. Be patient. Take the attitude, “I believe things will eventually turn our good. I do not need that everything happen right now. I have peace with the ambiguity of the journey. The tree of life gives its fruit in due season. Many great plans fall apart simply because people lost patience during the implementation phase.
  4. Be persistent. Whereas patience is a passive posture of waiting, persistence has to do with taking action and sticking with it. It is about grabbing on to your purpose and not letting go.
  5. Develop perspective. What I mean hear is to be able occasionally to step out of the mess and assess where you are, the obstacles you are facing, and the meandering path ahead. You may have to make adjustments along the way, that it normal for any plan. During moments of retreat and reflection, you can assess progress and make adjustments.

I hope these suggestions help you as you bring in the New Year. I hope they help me as well.

God bless you and may you have a very happy new year!

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