Evolve the resolution and create lasting change

Happy New Year! Once again, we’ve come to that time where the calendar changes and we leap forward into a new year – open, eager, and enthusiastic about the possibilities. Many take time to make resolutions. A commitment to make a radical change. The formal definition of resolution is: (1) a firm decision to do or not to do something and (2) the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.

According to www.statisticbrain.com, the top ten (10) New Year’s resolutions for 2015 were:

  1. Lose Weight

  2. Get Organized

  3. Spend Less, Save More

  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest

  5. Stay Fit and Healthy

  6. Learn Something Exciting

  7. Quit Smoking

  8. Help Others in Their Dreams

  9. Fall In Love

  10. Spend More Time with Family

Looks familiar? I’d venture to say that this top ten has been and continues to be static. If, by definition, a resolution is about making decisions and taking action, then why does this list seemingly go unchanged and each year we find ourselves resolving to do the same things? Truth be told, most resolutions are given up on within the first month of the new year. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-resolution. I believe resolutions can serve as great short term goals or motivators. In order for resolutions to really be impactful and create lasting change, one must evolve the resolution by following these three (3) steps.

First, the resolution must connect to your vision. If you don’t have a vision, it is time to create one. A vision is an image, a picture, or foresight of a state of being that currently does not exist. It should be big, audacious, and motivating. Let’s take a look at the list of resolutions above. You may notice there is a consistent theme in a few as they speak to healthy living. If these are on your list, what is your vision of a healthy lifestyle?

 Here is a simple exercise to develop a vision:

  • Close your eyes

  • Breathe deeply 

  • Envision yourself at the pinnacle of health

What do you see? How do you feel? What is the essence of that experience? Write it down. Find or draw pictures that reflect what you saw. Either put this in a journal or on a board that you can reference on a regular basis. Your vision is the first step in making sustained, meaningful changes in your life.

Second, resolutions are like goals and must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound).  Let’s take #2 in the list above: Get Organized. What does that really mean? It is too broad to inspire action. You can evolve that resolution by applying the SMART acronym and it might end up reading something like this: I will get organized by cleaning my closet and dividing the items into three piles of keep, donate, and trash during the spring break. Remember, by definition a resolution is a firm decision and commitment to action. Making them SMART inherently makes them fit that definition.

Finally, adjust your resolutions throughout the year. Your resolutions should be moving you closer to your vision. Things happen. Life changes. When it does, you have to make adjustments. You should revisit your resolutions at least quarterly. Why quarterly? Because it only takes one quarter or ninety days to observe significant changes. Let’s look at #7: Quit Smoking. Since “not smoking” is part of your vision of a healthy lifestyle, what if, instead of saying you want to quit smoking, you developed a SMART resolution to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke by one per week? At the end of the first quarter, twelve (12) weeks, you should have reduced the number of cigarettes you smoke by at least 12. You’ve reduced your cigarette smoking to fewer than half a pack! Congratulate yourself on the progress and make a new resolution. Perhaps, your new resolution is to replace the habit with something new or seeking medical assistance to end the habit outright. Whatever it is, it is time to adjust to something that will keep moving you toward your vision.

If you are ready to make lasting change, then it is time to evolve the old New Year’s resolutions. Start by creating a vision, make SMART resolutions that connect back to your vision, and adjust throughout the year. By December, you won’t be making the same list – instead you’ll be leaping to the next level in your life.

Read More from Coach Demetria: The 4th Quarter Principle


Coach Demetria Sloan
Demetria Sloan

Demetria Hill Sloan, CLC, ACC is a results-oriented professional life and leadership coach, influential mentor and outspoken motivator.  She founded Vantage Point Coaching after a major career transition and deciding to live her passion of helping others achieve their absolute best. She is committed to coaching individuals to achieve higher levels of performance, personal and professional fulfillment

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