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Are New Year's Resolutions a Waste of Your Time?

By Jason E. Johns

Every year millions of people resolve to change their life on New Year's Eve. Whether they are going to stop smoking, lose weight or get their dream job, they make a resolution to make that change in their life. In just a few days all but a small fraction of these people will have broken their New Year's resolutions and be making excuses as to why they are not changing after all.

Why? Firstly, people set themselves unreasonable expectations. We vastly over-estimate how much we can achieve in a day, a week or even a year, yet we dramatically under-estimate how much we can achieve in 10 years. Trying to lose three stone in a month is next to impossible without losing a limb! If you made a New Year's resolution that was actually achievable you'd have a fighting chance of sticking to it.

New Year's Resolutions tend to be "eat better" or "stop smoking" or "stop drinking" or something along these lines. Unless you have some powerful motivation, you may find it difficult to suddenly make these big changes in your life. Resolutions like these are vague and not really achievable. When you say "eat better," what do you actually mean? And more importantly, what is actually achievable? When you say "stop drinking" or "get fitter," what is on your mind? Stopping completely or just cutting down to a couple of drinks per week? Training to run a marathon or just being able to walk up the stairs without wheezing like a steam train?

Make your resolutions 100% achievable by defining them so you know exactly when you've achieved them. "Reduce my drinking to 5 units of alcohol a week." You know exactly what you want to achieve, so you have a target to aim at. "Be fit enough to run a mile in 10 minutes," is another precise target to aim at.

Make sure you know when you want to achieve your resolution. Most people make these resolutions on New Year's Eve and expect some magic to happen at midnight and their resolution be achieved for them. It doesn't work like that!

Much better is: "Reduce my drinking to 5 units of alcohol a week by the end of January" - a precise target and a deadline. You know exactly what you have to achieve and when you need to achieve it by. It's also realistically achievable.

The majority of people will make resolutions because they feel they ought to. It's the end of the year and everyone does it, so they should really make some resolutions. Unfortunately, this results in wishy washy resolutions that you don't really want to achieve.

Don't just make resolutions at New Year, set goals all year around when you feel the need and when you want to achieve something. Every single successful person in the world has a set of goals they are working towards.

Make sure you have powerful reasons why you absolutely must achieve your resolution. Don't make a resolution because your friend Bob has - make it because you want it to happen. Otherwise you're not going to achieve it without a visit from the good luck fairy.

Your reasons why you have to achieve your resolution (and why you cannot not achieve it) are your rocket fuel for achieving your resolution. Your reasons provide you with motivation and propel you towards your resolution, hence you need powerful, motivating reasons.

A lot of resolutions will fail because they are made on a conscious level without the agreement or participation of your subconscious. If subconsciously you do not want to achieve a resolution then you are going to sabotage your efforts. It is vital you get the buy-in of your subconscious mind. Without it, you are much more likely to fail.

This means listening to yourself when you make a resolution. You will know immediately yourself if it is achievable and if your subconscious is behind you. Hypnosis and hypnosis CDs are an excellent way to get the conscious and subconscious minds to work together to success.

Basically, make sure you actually want to achieve your resolution. If you don't, either don't set it or find some motivating reasons why you must achieve it. In summary, make your resolutions MAPPED:

Precisely timed
Over the Christmas holiday you normally get some quiet time. Instead of lounging in front of the television, spend this time deciding what you want from life. Do you realize, people spend more time planning their summer vacation than they spend planning the rest of their lives?

Out of the box

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