A six-step guide to revive and stick to resolutions

Come December, there is a quixotic surge in making new resolutions. However as New Year turns into Valentine’s Day into Easter, all resolves become vague and fade away. From exercising more to spending less, from learning skills like cooking and playing guitar to unlearning saying ‘yes’, they become a part of distant memory, only to be revisited at the next year-end.

Revisit resolutions midyear, checking back on a few old ones and making new ‘mid-year resolutions’, perhaps, we might be able to figure out what is keeping us from achieving what we commit. Probably we don’t have to wait for the next Monday, or first of next month or after you come back from that trip. Sometimes, starting something new and good is NOW.

The primary task is define your goals, as vaguely or specifically you can. Better if it is written down, old school notepad and pen are popular for a reason. Writing things helps you break it down with regards to the specifics. For instance if Italian is what you want to learn, specify what you will consider as ‘learning Italian’. Whether you want to be able to write, or say a few phrases, read a book in that language, or woo your girlfriend. Defining the expectations is the first step.

Where the trouble lies. While revisiting your old ‘new’ year resolutions, delve deeper into what withheld you from achieving those. People give up on their resolves out of sheer exasperation. The failure also lies in not giving a thought to what went wrong, what was the hindrance or obstruction? Was it time, money, work, or distance to the place you had to be, accessibility, two commitments clashing. Spelling out the problem is the second step towards its resolution.

Seek the solution. The problem could be very specific to you. Accept that something went wrong, look for customized solutions – one size never fits all. If it is a problem specific to your case, there has to be a solution specific to the problem. So if it is the distance to the gym, or may be the gym is on the opposite direction to where you live, try to find sports academy that heads in the direction of where you head every evening and morning. If it is vocabulary that is your Achilles heels, then maintain a list of words that are tricky on your handheld device so that you can access them and revise whenever you get a little window to do so. Finding a hack to problems exclusive to you will benefit more than finding generic solutions.

Plan the dive, Dive the plan. How many of us have this debate with ourselves right at 6am; ‘how going out for a run is a bad idea and that today is the day that you need rest’. Avoid last minute brain chatter. In scuba diving, you are asked to plan your dive to the T and stick to it, come what may. Most of the fatal accidents while diving happen when the diver thinks he can improvise underwater. However that deep under water, one is not able to take decisions because of various technical reasons (the brain functions differently, slower and everything feels muddled up). Likewise, while under a warm quilt, it will never seem like a good idea to get out and go for a run.

Reward your self. Keeping promises is tough. If you do, you deserve a reward. When am working out crazy, I buy a lovely dress, gift wrapped and all. The catch – it is one size smaller! I get to wear that only when I have achieved the task that I set out to do. So personalize your reward and congratulate yourself when you have achieved what you were set out to.

Lastly, don’t be too tough when you mess up – come back with a vengeance, in a good way. There is never a wrong time to begin the right thing.

[This blog piece was first penned for The Times of India]

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