It is the beginning of a new year and time for resolutions.  We all have things we want to improve whether it’s losing a few pounds, exercising more or giving up smoking. The problem is that, although many folks make sincere promises to change, most of the time it doesn’t work and we wind up feeling bad that we couldn’t follow through with our resolutions.  Today we’re going to talk about the three most common mistakes when making a new year’s resolution and offer three helpful tips that can help you to succeed.

Three common mistakes:  At the heart of a new year’s resolution is change and change is difficult. Here are three mistakes people often make when undertaking major changes in their lives:

  • WrongMotivation                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Making a resolution out of a sense of obligation or being pressured to do so by external forces.
  • Unrealistic expectations Setting an unrealistic or overly ambitious goal without having an adequate plan or resources.
  • BadTiming Not considering the timing of the project or the practical implications and consequences that a change would bring.

Some Important Questions  Before undertaking a significant change ask yourself these three questions:

Why am I considering a change ?

What is my real motivation for change? Is there more than one?  Is it for someone else or for myself? What about the part of me that doesn’t want to change ?  How am I dealing with that part?  Can I make a deal with myself and feel good about the trade-offs of what I must sacrifice for what I will get in return?

How Realistic are my expectations for change ?

Have I bitten off of more than I can chew ?  Are my goals realistic? Big changes are the result of many small steps.  Have I thought out the steps involved with major change carefully and do I have a detailed plan ?   Do I have the resources to make the changes ?  Have I thought about the implications, good and bad, that a major change will entail?    For example, if I want to lose weight and have to eat less but I eat to lower anxiety, do I have a plan to address my anxiety which does not involve food ?

Is this a good time to make a change ?

Practically speaking, is this a good time to go through the dislocating and disruptive consequences that change often involves?  Sometimes, folks who want to change experience a false sense or urgency and  feel a change has to happen now no matter what. They often don’t realize that if change is to be successful more than a matter of personal decision is involved. There may not be a perfect time to undertake changes but some times are better than others. Resolutions are more likely to be kept when the timing is right. Ironically, having the patience to wait for the right time may be one of the most important factors in making a successful change.

The decision to make important changes in our lives is something that takes honest soul searching, detailed planning and careful preparation and scheduling. Unfortunately, many new year’s resolutions are made impulsively or out of guilt or desperation.  With a combination of the right motivation, careful planning and effort as well as choosing the right moment to begin, resolutions can be the beginning of  rewarding, lifelong changes.