Britney Spears – How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Guaranteed!

+++++STOP PRESS++++

Stunning news…..

Has the violence in Gaza ceased?

Is the cholera epidemic coming to an end in Zimbabwe?


I think Britney Spears is going to try and stop biting her nails in 2009.

Bet you are delighted to hear that and I am sure the world will be a better place for it.

Oh by the way Happy New Year to you too….

So a topical issue combined with one of the most featured (and certainly recently controversial) stars of our times and we have a winning story on our hands.

Another new year and if you are reading this then no doubt you have made or are considering making your resolutions for 2009.

Before you do, maybe running the risk of being just a tad superficial with your resolutions for 2009, have a quick look at my New Year’s Resolution article from a couple of days ago.

There you will find a way of making sure your resolutions actually mean something to you and therefore are more likely to be achieved.

So once you have decided what your resolution is, are you going to keep it and if so how?

Well many people rely on good old will power and determination to keep to the commitments they make on New Year’s eve, usually when the clock is striking midnight.

The trouble is with this will power thing is that it often does not last very long.

I take my hat off to those who can make a decision, start (or stop) a habit and then keep to that for the rest of their days.

However most people I know (and I include myself in this) have in the past fallen by the wayside within the first few weeks or more likely the first few days.

Will Power and Determination are Not Enough…The Usual Story

January 1st, 2nd and 3rd are probably quite easy and our new thing (stopping smoking, starting exercising, reading our goals daily etc) is easy to do.

Then perhaps by the 4th or 5th we get back to work and are doing what we usually do.

Still we persist and whilst it might be a bit of a struggle, we still keep up with our new regime.

Then perhaps around the 6th or 7th of January, something comes up that either gets in the way of our new commitment or we weaken and go back to the bad habit.

We berate ourselves, grumble a little bit and then try to get back on to the path of righteousness on the 8th.

Maybe we keep to it for the 9th but something a little less stressful allows us to deviate from the path once more on the 10th and come the 11th we start making excuses why we can’t today (but we promise we will get back to it tomorrow).

And so the slippery slidey slope to reverting back to how we were on the 31st December has begun and despite the best of intentions our New Year’s Resolution fails to get us past the end of the second week of the year….AGAIN!

Here is a Simple Solution To This Age Old Problem

Here is a technique I have used my self in the past and will be using again this year to help me GUARANTEE that I will stick to my resolve to do good stuff.

First of all why it works.

Robert Cialdini in his great book “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion” talked about how we have certain behaviour patterns hard wired into our very being that pretty much work EVERY single time.

Dan Ariely in his book “Predictably Irrational” also shows us how there are certain types of behaviour that whilst irrational are actually predictable.

One of the things that Robert Cialdini talks about is that of commitment and consistency and in his book he says of commitment:

“If I can get you to make a commitment (that is to take a stand, to go on record), I will have set the stage for your automatic and ill-considered consistency with that earlier commitment. Once a stand is taken, there is a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand”

So this commitment that we make actually can be used to help us keep consistent with it as time goes by.

Now many people think they are making a commitment on New Year’s eve when they make their resolution but in reality it is just an “I wish” statement that they think the turning of the New Year will help them fulfil.

We could go into the power of goal setting (writing them down, reviewing them daily, creating a plan, taking small consistent actions every day) but despite the value of that, the only people who do that are the really successful ones (mmm there’s a thought!) so we won’t go there.

So lets go back to making the New Year’s Wish (like Britney’s desire to stop biting her nails) and seeing how we can supercharge that tentative effort for self development into something that may actually work.

A Check Mark a Day Helps Make The Resolution Stay

So back to that commitment and consistency thing again.

If you take a piece of paper and create a little chart with a column for your resolution(s) and then 31 columns (one for each day of January, you have your own ready made New Year’s Resolution Progress Sheet.

It might look something like this:

New Year’s Resolution Progress Sheet by Michael Tipper

Let say you were going to stop smoking and start exercising, you would write those two resolutions in the relevant box.

Then all you have to do is every day you have a clear day with no cigarettes (or what ever it is you are stopping doing) then you just place a simple tick in the column for that day.

You would do the same for the new habits you are going to develop.

Now the G, S and B on the form stand for Gold, Silver and Bronze and this is a way of giving yourself some flexibility in just how much you do each day.

So if you want to start exercising daily think about what you would consider the absolute minimum you would let yourself do and still feel you could, hand on heart, have kept to your resolution. This is your BRONZE level.

Then you go to the other end of the spectrum and decide what you consider would be the amount of exercise to make you feel especially proud of yourself – how you were going above and beyond what could normally be expected for that resolution. This is your GOLD level.

Then with those two extremes, find something mid-way between and call that your SILVER level.

Here is How It Works

So when you do keep to your resolution, you now have a little bit of flexibility to ease off a little or even push yourself even more depending upon how you feel.

What this sheet gives you is a visual way of keeping score – a way of monitoring your progress.

But more importantly, the sense of satisfaction you get from making a simple check mark when you have kept to your resolution for that day is extremely rewarding.

Over a few days, as you see the check marks build up, you will have a reminder of the progress you are making.

BUT…and here is the key…When you get a run of consistent check marks, the last thing you will want to do is to break a winning streak.

So whilst the idea of keeping to the resolution is appealing and you know you will benefit from it (otherwise why make the resolution in the first place), what you will begin to strive for is to keep up that ongoing run of check marks.

And you can only do that by sticking to your resolution….

There is method in the madness.

Then once you have got to the stage where you are doing something every day, if you haven’t already done so, the next goal is to get all the check marks to at least the silver level and then eventually to the gold level.

You will find this is an extremely compelling way to stick to your resolution.

So my gift to you to help you stick to your 2009 New Year’s Resolutions, is this sheet which you can download here (just right click and “save as” to your desk top)

It is a pdf document and has a sheet for January 2009 and then a blank sheet that you can use any time of the year when you want to start and instil a new habit.

Download it, try it out and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

If you have an even better suggestion for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions then let me know in the comments below.

P.S So Ms Spears, if you ever get to read this and you truly do want to stop biting your nails, just download the New Year’s Resolution Progress Sheet and start adding those daily check marks.