Hand in the air if you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution. Now keep that hand in the air if you’ve ever made a resolution that didn’t quite stick. We may not be in the room with y’all, but we’re pretty sure a huge percentage of you responded to one or both of those prompts. Since we simply don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times we’ve made our own resolutions that we couldn’t quite pull off, we empathize. That’s why we brought in an expert to help us learn all about the process of making New Year’s resolutions that stick.
Dawn Cary Broadwell is a pro business, life, and personal coach who lives in our little patch of the Berkshires, and works with clients both in this region and beyond. Dawn has helped a wide variety of high-achieving, overscheduled, and ripe-for-change people achieve their personal and professional goals, and she sat down with us to talk about why New Year’s resolutions often fail, and how to turn yours from slip-ups into successes.
Fresh American: Even though the idea of making New Year’s resolutions is so alluring, they always seem hard to keep. Why is this?
Dawn Broadwell: Well, first I’d say that the tradition of setting a New Year’s resolution is really an act of observing a stirring within us for change. And that’s good! That means we are aware and conscious of the lives we are creating and the nudges that life is giving us. Change is also natural and how we evolve and grow as a person.
The reason why New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap is because most people have put a quick-fix mentality around them—they want a change and they want it now! And if they don’t see results within the first few weeks, then they ditch the resolution. That’s unfortunate, because the longing for change is likely still there and the reason for the change is still there, too.
So why’s it hard? First, people don’t take the time to get really clear on why they want this change. If they’re not clear, then it’s hard to stay committed.
Second, people underestimate what it takes to make a big change happen. We need to be honest with ourselves on what we truly need to be supported. For example, if we want to eat healthier, do we need more knowledge on how to eat better? Maybe a cooking class is in order. Do we need to be held accountable? Maybe it’s time to work with a coach. Do we need more support at home so we can dedicate more time to ourselves? Maybe we need someone to help with the cleaning.
FA: Some people believe that it’s just not worth making resolutions since the failure rate
is on the high side. What’s your response when someone says making resolutions isn’t worth it?
DB: If you’ve tried New Year’s resolutions in the past and they haven’t stuck, maybe it’s time to change your approach to commitment, rather than your longing for change.
FA: What are your top tips for making New Year’s resolutions?
DB: My top tips are to get clear, get committed, and get connections in place to support you.
The important piece is determining what’s really stirring within you. The key phrase here is within you. When we understand why we truly want this change, then aligning our day-to-day actions to support our goals becomes easier. It suddenly doesn’t feel like so much work. Here
are my top 5 questions for making a New Year’s resolution that sticks:
- What is one change that if I made this year would have a major impact on my life?
- Why does this matter so much?
- If another year goes by without me making this change, how will I feel? What will be the cost?
- How committed am I to making this change? (Scale of 1–10.)
- What support do I need to truly make this happen?
The first three questions help you get clear on why you want this change. The fourth question determines how committed you are to making this change. And the last question uncovers what you truly need for support in making this change happen. This question is especially important for people who have tried a resolution in the past that hasn’t stuck.
FA: Once you’ve made resolutions, what are your top tips for keeping them?
DB: Make it fun! Change doesn’t have to be dreadful. Remember, you want this change for a reason. Find ways to make it fun. For example, if you’re committed to exercising more, grab a friend for a weekly walk or hike, or try something new like yoga, Pilates, or tennis.
Get connected. Connect yourself with like-minded people who have similar goals. This will keep you inspired and motivated, and will make the change more enjoyable. There are many online groups that you can become a member of, even if you can’t find a group locally.
Celebrate your successes. Make it fun by celebrating all your successes along the way. If you journal, keep a list of all the things you have accomplished. This list will be helpful to reflect on
during the tough times and will be a great reminder of all you’ve accomplished when it’s time to
make the next resolution.
FA: Are there any types of resolutions that you caution your clients against making?
DB: No, I think resolutions and goals are personal, and whatever is coming up for someone should be explored.
FA: What should you do if you find yourself slipping on a resolution? Should you give it a certain amount of time/effort before deciding to move on to something else?
DB: Forgiving yourself and starting again are keys to making a lasting change. Slip-ups will happen, and that’s okay. It’s actually normal and part of the process. We simply need to acknowledge the slip-up and commit to making a different decision next time.
I personally don’t think a deadline should be given to the resolutions. Resolutions are really an invitation for us to change something in our lives. The key is accepting the invitation with open arms.
Want to work with Dawn on your own personal coaching sessions? Contact her through her website.