Let’s Make September Resolutions and Make Them Work!

shutterstock_162526487-wNew Year’s in September!

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions.  We all hope to make huge strides to change our lives for the better on January 1st.  Buoyed with excitement and optimism, you head into the new year with ambitious new goals – learn a language, lose 20 pounds, hike the Appalachian Trail – only to have those high hopes dashed by March.

Make that February.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, data shows that the first week of February is when many people who started working out at the gym on January 1st drop out.

Dust ‘Em Off and Begin Again
Let’s take time to revisit those New Year’s resolutions this September. It is a time for new beginnings in a lot of ways. School starts, business groups start meeting again, football season is around the corner, and we are all focused on working a little more than we have over the lazy summer months.

Besides giving your resolutions a second chance, most people still need help in creating the stick-to-itiveness to make progress on our resolutions. Here are some suggestions:

#1  Keep Starting!
Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits, says we can “Keep Starting” to make the changes we want to see, and this is a great method for renewing our resolve.   We need to be prepared for the setbacks, and with understanding and self-compassion, try not to let our frustration keep us from acting in our best interest. Be patient and keep in mind that change also can happen gradually.  Each step you take gets you a little bit closer to your ideal.

#2  Re-write the resolution
Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal has written a book called, “The Willpower Instinct.”  One of her messages is that you’re not a terrible person because you’re having a hard time sticking to a resolution. Perhaps you’ve just formulated the wrong resolution.  In a TED blog she says that the kind of resolutions that work are when you slow down and ask yourself what you want for yourself and your life.  Who do you want to be? What do you want more of in your life?   How might you get there? What would that create as a consequence?  When you start from that point of view, then resolutions can be incredibly effective.

#3  Choose to be About Something
Being dedicated to a value or vision, or even just a valued way of living can offer the persistent, stick-to-it-iveness that we need to keep heading in the right direction.  If we are too focused on our goals, we can become ‘stuck.’ Instead, if we choose to “be about” something, then we can behave in this way and live by that value in whatever we do.  For example, if I hate my job, or I am being blocked in doing the best job that I can, due to certain circumstances, then by living by the value “I am a hard worker” it allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” and there’s a good deal of truth to that statement.  Perseverance and commitment are often just day-to-day choices to do what we say we are going to do.  If we can make the choice to put good things into our life, then all we have to do is keep on doing those things, creating a vital life by filling our life with good habits.

The bottom line is that to be successful in your resolutions and any goal is a matter of showing up for your life, being present, and connecting to what’s important.  Finally, do what matters whether you feel like it or not.

Good luck with your September Resolutions and wish me luck with mine – because we are all in the same boat, paddling as hard as we can. Wishing you many days of doing what matters most to you!