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3 Steps to Create a New Year’s Resolution that Sticks!

By looking back, we can find our path forward…

When my first daughter was born (I’m blessed with three), I was out of shape and trending badly. I committed to find a way to get into shape and stay there. Martial arts was, and remains, my path forward (a path that’s helped me shed 20 pounds since this photo was taken). What’s yours?

Statistics vary but indicate that less than 10% of us are able to maintain our New Year’s Resolutions.

The “why” of it doesn’t matter.

If folks are interested in the “why”, LMK and I’ll share my thoughts. My book and methodology for optimal decision-making (The Alternative Response Method) focuses primarily on the “how” of things.

How do we make better decisions?

How do we become a better spouse?

How do we become a better parent?

How do we make more money?

How do we have happier lives?

How can we live in a way that promotes our best selves?

Too much time is wasted on the “why” of things, and not enough on the “how.”

So — how do we set New Year Resolutions that are attainable, you ask?

By using hindsight.

Hindsight is 20/20. This means that when we look back, we are granted a glimpse of reality that is unshakable in its accuracy. We can ask ourselves; did we do those things that we wanted to? Did we stick with last year’s resolutions? What could I have done differently? Did I skip eating ice cream last week, make the bed, go to the health club, make more cold calls, etc.?

While it may be difficult to look back and perform an objective assessment of how we’ve done (there’s a concept in my book called “our feelings are not our friends”). In the past, oddly enough, is where our path forward emerges.

By looking back at what we’ve accomplished, we can now identify what we call within The Alternative Response Method, “Trending Capacities.”

Here’s how it works:

1. Choose a New Year’s Resolution.

2. Using hindsight, what have you accomplished in the past that will help you attain that goal?

Let’s use a common one — losing weight.

I’ll go first.

I have been a solid 35 pounds too heavy for my liking for the last 30 years. And about two months ago, I decided to practice what I preach by using The Alternative Response Method to find a “how,” and lose that weight.

Within ARM we have two types of goals; “process” and “quantitative.” I’ve assigned this goal to be a process, in that this is how I’m going to eat for the rest of my life. I’m indifferent to the weight loss because eating low-carb and intermittent fasting, for me, is something I have historically been able to do.

If I wanted my weight loss to be quantitative, I would say I want to lose 2 pounds a week, or 10 pounds a month or something similar.

My staff will beat me if I write too long, so please comment or email me as to why I chose process over quantitative.

In developing my process goal towards losing weight, I knew that I could stop eating at, say 9 p.m. and then not eat again until after noon, on a consistent basis. I also know that I have trouble with portion control, so that a low-carb routine would allow me to eat certain things (within reason) as much as I wanted.

Lastly, and this is critical when you set your goal, I named it something very specific; I am not on a diet; I am not trying to lose weight; I am now a person who practices intermittent fasting and eats low-carb.

I encourage, nay, challenge! You to do the following:

The three steps!

1. Find a piece of paper and write down your goal. Give some thought to the wording; “Eating healthier” is better than “losing weight.” If you’re a “quantitative-goal” kinda person, make it reasonable. Make it easy, say, 1 pound every two weeks. Something that is attainable and sustainable.

2. This is where the magic of hindsight comes in! Think, and perhaps ask around, as to what things you’re already good at which can be shifted to support this goal:

a. Are you a morning person? If so, can you get up, say, 20 minutes earlier every morning and walk for 10 minutes? If so, start there and see if you can first maintain that consistency and then, if you’d like, increase it. This would be identification and implementation of “trending capacity.”

b. Who does the shopping? Can you make a shopping list and buy only those things that you want in the house? If you share your kitchen with family members who may choose to eat differently than you, can you dedicate a cabinet or pantry shelf and refrigerator/freezer section for either your, or their, items?

c. How are you visually? When you go to a restaurant or make dinner at home, can you cut your portion in half, and set one half aside for 10 minutes to see if you’re still hungry?

d. Are you the type of person that likes to join groups or have support? Perhaps Weight Watchers may be part of your path forward?

e. Do you have an accountability buddy? I had a friend where every morning we would text each other our weight to provide support.

f. Are you able to conceptually relate to food differently? For me, I can differentiate between eating something exceptionally delicious, from eating something that is simply nutritious. Not everything, for me, needs to taste amazing.

3. Evaluate. As you work on this new “good goal,” be kind to yourself. An occasional slip is not a failure. Good goals take time to become intuitive and second nature. If something isn’t working, switch it up. Don’t give up! Don’t get discouraged. Find a new path; an Alternative Response, as it were. Keep looking. What works for someone else, may, or may not, work for you.

What do you think?

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments! Have you ever used hindsight to help you find a path forward? Do you believe that naming your goal makes a big difference? When you find yourself struggling with an issue such as losing weight or something else, what tools have you developed that work for you? And, lastly, LMK what you’d like to hear more about. Good decision-making applies everywhere.

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