12 Ways To Stack Your Resolution Deck

For many people, the beginning of the year is the time they make resolutions. They look at the year before then decide what they are or are not going to do in the coming year to make their life better.

In a 2017 survey, when people were asked about their resolutions, the two most common responses had to do with saving money and losing weight. No surprises there. Having more sex and traveling more came in at #3 and #4 respectively. Those are also two good goals. 

Unfortunately, we all know how resolutions typically go. People decide on January 1 that THIS YEAR is going to be different. Two weeks later, the new year is starting to look an awful lot like the old one. Ugh!

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Even if you’ve slipped up already this year, you can still be successful at following through with your resolutions. Yes, it’s difficult. All positive change is difficult. The key is to NOT make it any more difficult than it has to be. 

Basically, if you really want to be successful with your New Year’s resolutions, you need to take every opportunity to stack the deck in your favor. Here are a few examples of how to do that.

Write It Down: Anytime you have a goal, you should write it down. This helps you turn your goal into a real commitment instead of just something that is floating around in your head that you may or may not take seriously. If you want to elevate your commitment level even further, print off your goals and sign them.

Be Specific: It’s difficult to hit a target when you don’t know exactly what you are aiming at. If you want to make a real change in the coming year, you need to be crystal clear what you are trying to do. Goals like “lose weight” and “save money” are far too vague. When you write out your goals, be specific.

Keep Track: Whether you are trying to lose weight, save money, or achieve some other goal, journalling is a powerful tool that will help you succeed. All you have to do is take a few minutes each day to document your goal-related activities. Journalling helps you with follow through. It helps you recognize when you are slipping.

Set Up Reminders: Old habits are hard to break. It’s easy to lose sight of a new goal and fall back into old patterns. Reminders can be a helpful tool to keep you on track. Write your goal on your bathroom mirror. Set up a daily goal reminder on your phone. Put a note on the refrigerator. The more reminders you set up for yourself, the better.

Get A Buddy: It’s always easier to reach your goals when you have someone who is trying to reach them with you. A good goal buddy will help keep you accountable and increase the likelihood that you will follow through with your goals.

It’s important to note that a goal buddy is someone who is walking the same path that you are walking. A goal buddy is NOT random social media “friends” who applaud what you are doing from a distance. While it’s nice to get likes and comments, that type of support typically has no impact on real-life followthrough. 

Schedule It: If your goal is something that can be scheduled, schedule it. That way you know it will get done. If you try to find the time, you won’t. You have to make time. If you wait around until you have enough money, you won’t ever have enough. You have to manage money. So if you want to start going to the gym, set aside the days and times. If you want to save more money, set aside the amount/percentage each paycheck. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t ever happen. 

Honor It: Once you have scheduled your goal, the next step is to honor it. Many people will make a plan, schedule their plan, but they don’t honor that appointment. It’s time to go to the gym, but they sleep in instead. They are supposed to set aside money for savings, but there is a sale on a really cool pair of shoes, so they buy them instead. You will never make progress with your goals if you do not honor the time/plan you have made for them.

One Thing At A Time: One of the big mistakes that people make when it comes to goals, especially New Year’s resolutions, is they make a giant list of things they want to change. They want to lose weight, make more money, find love, travel, and the list goes on and on. 

It’s hard enough to make one big change. Making 4 or 5 at one time in your life is almost impossible. The simple solution is to pick one big goal and work on that. Of the many things you would like to see change, focus your energy on the one that is most important. It’s always better to get one thing done vs getting a lot of things started.

Make It Easy: Another common mistake people make when they are trying to change is they bite off more than they can chew. They haven’t exercised in 10 years, and they tell themselves, “I’m going to go to the gym at 5 am every morning and workout for 90 minutes.” I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but no you aren’t. People don’t go from never exercising to being an exercise maniac without any steps in the middle. 

If you try to go from 0-100 you are almost certainly going to crash. What I recommend doing is starting small. Set some ridiculously easy goals for yourself and start creating positive habits/momentum in the direction you want to go. Can you do 5 minutes of exercise each day? Can you have one day per week without sweats? Great…start there.

Break Your Fall: A lot of people have a fear of failure, but failing is just a natural part of trying. Anytime you try to do something you haven’t done before, there are going to be times when you mess up. Failure really isn’t the problem, allowing a pattern of failure is the problem. 

Maybe you have a day where you mess up on your diet, that’s OK. Just don’t let that day of failure turn into a week of failure. The same is true for exercise, saving money, or anything else you are trying to change. Anytime you have a setback, acknowledge it and stop it in its tracks. Don’t let a slip up turn into a free fall. 

Test And Tweak: You may be crystal clear about the goal you are trying to reach, but that doesn’t mean your goal reaching methods have to be set in stone. A lot of times, people find out that the way they thought they were going to reach their goals isn’t the way that works best for them. That’s why it’s important to have an open mind when it comes to HOW you reach your goals. 

Maybe a particular diet doesn’t work well for you. Maybe a particular financial growth strategy doesn’t help you the way you thought it would. That’s OK. You can always change it. The willingness to test and tweak HOW you reach your goals is often the big difference between someone giving up and someone doing great.

Celebrate The Small Wins: You can’t lose 100 lbs before you lose 10 lbs. You can’t save $100k before you save $10. It doesn’t work that way. Many times when people have their eyes set on a big hairy goal, they try to skip steps. Even worse, people start despising the small wins along the way that will ultimately lead to their big win. It’s important to remember that there are most likely multiple steps involved in the change you are hoping to make. Celebrating the small wins will not only help you stay on track, but it will also help you enjoy the journey.

Final Thoughts: Change is difficult, but you don’t have to make it impossible. If you have a goal in mind, there are a lot of different ways that you can stack the deck of success in your favor. This list isn’t a complete list by any means, but it gives a good place to start. Ultimately, the easier you make the process of change the more likely you will turn your goal into your reality.