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Keeping Resolutions May Require A Whole New Approach

By Liz Reyer Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Business coach Liz Reyer gives her tips for creating realistic New Year's resolutions to improve the overall quality of your life.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Q: Like many people, I'd like to make some changes for the better in the new year. Any thoughts on making, and keeping, resolutions? -Pat, 40, director

A:Liz Reyer: Start from a place of self-acceptance. Judging yourself for perceived failings makes it much harder to grow. This may not be easy, but at least if you recognize that you're being hard on yourself, you'll be better off.

Treat the resolution question as an opportunity for substantial reflection. Set aside a couple of hours so that you can really get into it. If you have a friend or family member who is interested in a similar pursuit, it can be fun and helpful to make it a shared activity.

Now consider your overall vision for your life. If you've never really thought this through, it would help explain why resolutions have been hard to achieve. If it's been a while, doing a refresh will be valuable. Think about your values and core beliefs: What is most important to you? How would you like to be remembered by others?

It's important to connect with the emotional aspects of your vision. It's not a real vision if it doesn't light you up! One easy way is to do a vision poster. Page through some old magazines, focusing on the images. Tear out any pictures that appeal to you, ignoring the article content or image context. Once you have a pile, arrange them on a sheet of poster board in a way that feels right to you.

Then take a step back; what does your poster reveal to you? Think about the emotions, activities and underlying principles it shows. Notice aspects of your life where you're in alignment with your vision. And consider aspects where you're out of sync as your strongest candidates for change, using your insights to help increase your chances for success.

Let's use weight loss, one of the all-time leading resolution items, as an example. So many people want to lose weight, but why? Potential reasons abound, but each person's underlying motivation, the tie to their vision for their life, will be unique. Success, while not guaranteed, becomes easier when the plan to achieve the goal connects with deeply felt dynamics.

Staying with that theme, your vision poster may show a deep connection with family. Perhaps, then, you'd want to lose weight to remain healthy so you'll be there for your family. Or maybe it shows a thirst for adventure. In that case, being able to do activities you dream of would be your motivator.

Then it's on to taking action. Ask yourself in the moment, "Does this choice help me achieve my vision?" Your resolution, your goal, is a means to the end, but will not have as much emotional power to help you stay the course.

Circling back to our starting point, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your successes in moving toward your vision, while being tolerant and reflective about slips. This will keep you in continuous learning mode about how to best move yourself toward your desired outcome. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes.

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