When we blow one of our New Year’s resolutions or goals there is an almost overwhelming desire to give up. We say to ourselves, “I just can’t do it!” At the very least, there is a considerable amount of disappointment and sadness to endure for a while. This is especially true if it’s a health, relationship, or career threatening issues like giving up alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.
Here’s how to revive your New Year’s resolutions or goals, get back on track, and overcome your frustration quickly.
Truly Giving Up Reinforces Doubts
If you really give up, even for a few days, you are reinforcing your belief that you cannot and will not succeed. The longer you wait to get back on track the stronger your doubts will become.
The best thing you can do is to dust yourself off and continue toward your goal. Once you make the commitment to begin where you left off, you’ll feel a lot better right away!
If you blow your New Year’s resolutions or goals, end your doubts by restarting the process immediately!
Failure is NOT a Requirement for Success
Failure is not a prerequisite for succeeding as the alcohol & drug recovery movement often suggests. Many factors affect a person’s ability to succeed on the first try, or even the first 10 tries. Some people just haven’t acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed.
Seek out books and information about your particular issue. Then pick out and adapt the information and techniques that make the most sense to you. This will give you will a solid foundation, but you’ll still need to develop some new skills to succeed. The good news is that once you achieve your goal, you will have acquired skills along the way that will help you in many areas of your life. I provide descriptions on several of these skills in the last section.
You don’t have to blow your New Year’s resolutions or goals in order to succeed, but you do need the right information and skills.
Learn From Failure
Failure is an opportunity to learn how to succeed. This isn’t just a “feel good” statement, it’s true.
When you fail, you can look back at both the triggers that caused you to give up and the things you did to succeed up to that point.
It took me many serious tries before I finally gave up coffee and cigarettes. The most important thing I learned during these failures was what to expect and how to get through the physical and psychological withdrawal. The first time I tried, I had no understanding of these crucial factors.
Each time I failed, I’d get another book, search the Internet, and learn a little more. Gaining this knowledge was extremely helpful, but I still needed to develop new skills and strengths to succeed. The templates for the development of these things don’t exist in any book, article, program, or class. Your uniqueness requires that you create them yourself.
Although no book or article has everything you need to succeed, sometimes you come across one that really resonates with you. One that provides the missing pieces you needed to breakthrough some crucial barriers.
This was the case for me in a book by Allen Carr. If this book were available when I tried to stop smoking, I would have quit a lot sooner. Even so, his liberating and inspiring message greatly increased my resolve to never smoke again. Here are two of his books that I highly recommend.
- The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr (I would have quit a lot sooner had I found this brilliant book. B.P.)
- The Easy Way to Stop Drinking by Allen Carr (An inspiring message that does NOT sentence you to a lifetime of “recovery” and AA meetings. B.P.)
Blowing your New Year’s resolutions or goals isn’t failure unless you quit trying.
Use the Pain of Failure to Succeed
This isn’t a focus you should maintain, but looking at how bad you felt when you failed can strengthen your determination to succeed.
Contrast the bad feelings of failing with the good feelings you had at the end of each successful day. Yes, this is a carrot and stick approach, but use whatever will get you through difficult periods.
It’s not easy to quit a bad habit or create a new one. Your mind and body will be trying to bring you back to where you were –- the “normal” state or routine. You’ll need to force yourself past this point. It doesn’t take long though — 3-7 days for physical withdrawal and 21-45 days for psychological withdrawal.
When you feel like you’re going to blow your New Year’s resolutions or goals, think back to how bad you felt when you failed. Then refocus your thoughts on how great you felt at the end of each successful day.
Adjust Your Plan
Although there is no perfect time to give up a bad habit, lose weight, or begin a fitness program, there are some extreme circumstances where you’d be better off waiting. It all depends on whether the situation requires the use of your brain or it’s a situation where you’d rather think as little a possible.
For example, if you are right in the middle of college exams, a tax audit, or job training when maximum brainpower is needed, I recommend that you set a new date to begin.
On the other hand, if your romantic relationship is breaking up or you’ve just lost your job, now would be an ideal time to go forward since getting into your head is not productive right now. You can also use the pain of the break up or job loss to strengthen your determination to succeed.
You can channel the energy created by pain toward negative or positive activities. The energy has to go somewhere. You might as well direct it toward something positive like achieving a difficult goal. I’ve used this strategy to my advantage many times. I describe it in an article at Solotopia.com entitled, “Breaking Up – How to Ride the Pain to Gain.”
Picking the wrong time to start is a sure way to blow your New Year’s resolutions or goals. Select a start date that makes sense and then just get it done!
Eliminate the Pressure
Selecting New Year’s Day or the first day of the month as a start date can add pressure to an already challenging task.
I wouldn’t worry too much about picking a date that starts at the beginning of a year or month. Just pick the one that works best for you!
For example, it might be better for you to stop smoking on your days off and not during your workweek. This selection method requires that you evaluate schedules, circumstances, and surroundings and not be concerned about a particular date.
Another way is to pick a particular week or month instead of a specific day. When you do it this way, you allow yourself to begin when it feels right. For example, you might say to yourself, “Everything seems right for me to give up coffee today (or this week).” From there you don’t think about quitting, you just do it. This method removes a lot of pressure. If thoughts about wanting some coffee arise, you just say to yourself, “I’ll think about that later. I’ve got other issues to deal with right now.” I used this method to give up coffee.
Don’t set yourself up to blow your New Year’s resolutions or goals by picking a high pressure start date.
Develop These Skills to Succeed
Confidence, planning, and determination are key skills for successfully breaking a bad habit or creating a new one. Here’s a description of how these skills are applied to goal achievement.
Confidence is having faith in your ability to achieve a goal and handle any obstacles that may arise along the way. The key word is “faith.” Faith is belief in the unseen or untested. You must keep your thoughts on the belief that you can and will succeed!
Planning involves deciding what you want to accomplish, acquiring information on the best way to go about it, making a to-do list, getting needed equipment and supplies, and picking a date or time period to begin.
For example, if you’re starting an exercise program you’ll need to get information on exercise techniques and nutritional requirements. You’ll need to make a list of the equipment and supplies you’ll need. You’ll need to join a health club or build a home gym. And you’ll need to pick out dates or a time period (week, month, quarter) for accomplishing each step.
Determination is a never give up mindset. When you are determined, there are no alternatives or escape routes. You just keep moving forward until you succeed. This is the easiest one because there is only one path and one way of thinking. When you are determined, you do what you need to do even when you don’t feel like. In these situations, you just force yourself to do it anyway. Once you get started, you’ll start to feel motivated. Motivation follows action, not the other way around.
One way to keep your determination alive is to have a list handy of all the things you’ll gain when you succeed. Describe each item in a way that will bring about the feelings you’d have if you had already accomplished your goal. These are the feelings and thoughts that you want to maintain. In addition, make a list of all the things you’ll lose if you fail for those times when you need an extra jolt of encouragement.
You’ll have a better chance of achieving your New Year’s resolutions or goals once you’ve mastered these skills.