Most New Year’s Resolutions have gone by the wayside before January is over and most won’t even be remembered six months later. And the reason is pretty simple. Most are made in response to something negative; a habit or situation that the person wants to change or end. And therein lies the problem – it’s hard to develop momentum from a negative response. It is always easier to move toward something than away from something.

Consider one of the most adopted goals — weight loss. Very few people really love going to the gym and I haven’t heard of a single person say they love dieting. So from the beginning, we have a big problem. You don’t really want to do the thing you set out to do. And so you force yourself for a month or two and then you quit. Perfectly normal behavior. No one wants to carry on doing something they don’t like doing so why should you be any different?

The people who succeed at losing weight and maintaining the loss have usually been motivated by a dream much bigger and more positive than just losing weight. They see themselves living a healthy lifestyle. They begin to act and think like people who are in good physical shape. There’s more of a radical change in a person’s thinking and actions than you see with most resolutions.

The main reason people fail to complete their goals is that they’ve chosen the wrong goal. They key to being successful is to pick goals that you really want to do in the first place. In the case of losing weight, you want the end result – a healthy, fit and attractive body. Instead of a goal to lose weight, focus on the end result. How can I achieve that? There are loads of ways to do that that could be fun and enjoyable such as becoming a yoga teacher, taking dance lessons or kick-boxing class, joining a running, walking, or cycling group, learning to scuba dive.

The best goal to set is one that calls for the individual to create a plan for their life based on a set of personal dreams. Most people are in a free-fall through life, careening from one crisis to the next. If you were going to build a new house and you had this idea for a fabulous master bedroom suite, you wouldn’t rush out and start building the master bedroom. You’d have a complete plan before you started. When you approach resolutions and goals in the same manner, you end up with a much better chance of achieving success.

The second reason is that they don’t have a rock solid structure for support. The key to success is not discipline or willpower or inspiration. Those might get you started, but they won’t be enough to sustain you. You need to set up a structure for support that will ensure your success, even when you don’t feel like doing it anymore. If you do like going to the gym, then a structure for success might be setting up a regular work-out buddy or hiring a personal trainer. For nutrition, you may be amazed to discover you save money by hiring a professional service to prepare your meals for you.

Here’s a Checklist for Success:

1. Pick the right goal. Is it aligned to your core values? If a goal is aligned to your core values, even if you never reach the end result, you will still have fun and enjoy the process. You won’t be wasting your precious time on the wrong objective. At the very least, make sure it is enjoyable or fun.

2. If a goal is over one year old, toss it. Don’t waste time trying to resuscitate a dead goal. Pick a new goal that truly excites you instead.

3. Set up a rock solid structure for support. This might be a buddy, a coach, an automatic system that kicks in when you don’t feel up to it. If your goal is wealth, then set up an automatic savings account to start.

4. Focus. Only pick one or two big goals for the year. A big goal takes six months to one year to accomplish. You can also have three projects going at any one time. A project takes less time. One of your three projects should always be supporting your big goal. The other two can be whatever you want, but don’t tackle a fourth project until you complete one of the three. Most people spread themselves too thin and dilute their time, energy and resources. For example, if your big goal is to write a book, then a supporting project might be to do some research or to write one chapter. If your big goal is Health and Vitality, then a supporting project might be to hire a nutritionist or take a dance class. It is okay if all three of your projects support your big goal, in fact, it is great!

Adapted from: Talane Miedaner, MCC
Author of the international best seller, Coach Yourself to Success