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A step-by-step guide on how to choose, make and keep New Year's resolutions – Harvard Gazette


As vacation music is fading and the payment time of the resolutions takes place, Harvard experts make the transition a little easier. Do not know where to start? You can try the performance improvement method of 1 percent. Did you highlight the perspective of a lifestyle change? Practice the conscience and discover how meditation can lead to a "better brain" in only eight weeks. Do you want to expand this? Find out what 80 years of Harvard research have to say about living a longer and happier life.

Still not sure what's best for you? Choose a theme from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health nutrition source, where you will find tips that go far beyond your plate and that the first cup of coffee in the morning.

The key is to choose the resolution of the New Year and make it happen. MacKenzie Kassab, former collaborator of the Professional Development website of the Continuing Education Division, met a 12-month plan to develop and maintain resolutions filled with Harvard's expert advice and beyond.

Take a look

January: prepared, fixed, objective

Here is the time to think about where – and who – want to be this year.

"I do not think there's something too big," says Margaret Andrews, president of the Mind and Hand Associates consultant and instructor of Harvard's Continuing Education Division.

Get the stars! But remember, even the astronauts have to fight with bad weather. "You have to think about your ecosystem," says Andrews. What external factors can prevent you from reaching your goal?

You could solve eating healthy foods and lose five pounds around your average. That is reasonable enough. But how will you deal with the sugar desires of the three in point? What will happen when the spouse forgets to have the cabinet with cookies and chips? Is there something beyond your control that could be a barrier to success? Keep in mind, but do not discourage yourself.

"Consider what you need to start doing or stop doing and foresee obstacles," says Andrews. "If you do not think it now, you will not have any willpower at this time." You have a strategy in place, and you will be on your way to achieving this goal in no time.

February: Commit to a process

You have set your points of interest in a goal. Now, design a plan.

Entrepreneur and author of "atomic habits" James Clear recently reported in the magazine Inc. That simply setting a goal is the first step on the way to onehappiness

"You are essentially saying:" I am not good enough, but I will be when I reach my goal. "The problem with this mentality is that you teach to always unleash happiness and success to the next goal. 39; get it, "says Clear.

Instead of that, it suggests focusing on a process, not the end result. Deconstruct your objective in productive and viable actions.

Finding a new job is a common resolution. But hunting can be daunting. To make it more manageable, set a calendar: send two summaries per week, or attend a network event per month.

When celebrating small victories, the journey becomes as significant as the destination.

March: Find your motivation

"There is no one solution to motivation," says Andrews. "There are people that come out of whole pig, and others relax. You really have to meet yourself and for yourself".

This is the time to explore what the fire lights up. If your goal is to run a marathon, you may find the maximum effort in rewarding small victories. Get 10 miles away, book a massage.

If this does not work, see if a photo of Usain Bolt in the refrigerator is enough to keep you moving. Explore the tactics until you find one that adapts, and do not be afraid of being creative.

April: criticize your intentions

If your ambition diminishes, proclaim your intentions from the roofs. Text friends, send email to colleagues or call your mom.

"When we publish our desire to change, we are risking the failure abruptly, putting our reputation and self-esteem on the line," says Marshall Goldsmith, executive coach and author of "Triggers." "It's the difference between betting with ourselves – earn money in cash and bet on simple bets without money."

Promotion is a positive by-product: most people will want to see how they are successful, and some may even offer support or guidance.

May: Ask everything you are doing

One of the "magic moves" of Goldsmith to change behavior is the daily self-questioning. It proposes the composition of a list of queries that encourage reflection.

Anyone who wants to win three new customers this year could ask: "Did I do everything possible to generate current customers?" Meanwhile, someone who wants a stronger savings account could ask: "Did I do everything possible to avoid unnecessary expense today?"

There is no rule, that is not tracking progress with the same questions every day, and just a suggestion: start each question with "I did everything to …"

"This phrase injects ownership and personal responsibility in the Q & A process," he says.

June: re-evaluate your goals

You're halfway through the year, and your goal is in sight! Or maybe not. If things are not planned, reconsider your strategy and honestly about your solution.

"Someone I know was trying to lose weight, and he was told he had to cut his glass of wine every night," says Andrews. "She knew herself well enough to say:" It's a good part of my life and I am not willing to give up. "He found other ways to compensate." Fixed in which tactics have been less effective at this point, and explore other ways to achieve your goal. Maybe you add 15 minutes to your training but keep the Pinot Noir.

Coping with your expectations can also be acceptable. "You may want to have the weight that was at age 18, but you are in reality ready to do everything necessary to get there? ", asks Andrews. Becoming a pair of jeans from last year can be a reasonable compromise, especially once you have seen what is required for success.

July: find support

There is a reason that there are support groups for everything, from breastfeeding addiction: there is power in the numbers. Social support can be essential to achieve the goals.

"Hang up with the right crowd and your success can inspire us to think:" If they can do it, I can also, "says Piers Steel, a researcher at The Procrastination Equation.

Find an organization with a mission aligned with yours, be it Weight Watcher, Habitat for Humanity or the Society of Women Engineers. A breach in the market is a great excuse to create your own goal-oriented group, which could be just a handful of peers who share professional growth strategies during dinner. "Leaving or continuing to work, both are contagious," says Steel.

August: active

All goals, personal or professional, require adequate energy. Unfortunately, things like stress, caffeine, alcohol, and evenings at night can withstand the sap. The will power and the motivation are usually the next ones.

A review of the lifestyle is extreme, but there are minor changes. First of all, purge your life or work space from distractions, either that implies cleaning your desktop clutter or uninstalling the Facebook app from your phone. Steel advises "strategically allocate" limited energy reserves. Less clutter, literal or figurative, is equivalent to a more mental approach.

Next, determine when it is more efficient and devote part of that time to achieving your goal. Are you a person in the morning who strives to speak fluent in French? Put Radio France Internationale while preparing to work. Is the head lighter in the afternoon? Remove it away the lessons at your lunch break.

And do not forget your mental and physical health. "Your energy stores are a limited resource, so reposition them actively," says Steel. This means nourishing your well-being and sleeping well.

September: See results

Close your eyes Now, imagine meeting your goal. Do you have a gold medal? A larger paycheck? A baked Alaska with a jaw? According to Steel, "the detailed mental re-creation of performance involves the mirror neurons that record the act in their brain almost as deeply as if they really practiced it."

The next step, and most importantly, is called mental contrast: see where it is today, with a case of empty trophy, bank account or oven. "The result will be that your current situation is framed as an obstacle in the way of your dreams," says Steel.

Contrasting where you are and where you want to be exact exactly the motivation that most people need to take action.

October: inspire

Bill Gates reads 50 books in the year. In fact, the co-founder of Microsoft is so passionate about reading that the GatesNotes blog started to publish reviews of his favorite titles. Nike's Phil Knight "Shoe Dog" is at the top of the list. "The horseman is in a way that few CEOs are willing to do," writes Gates. "He tells his story with as much honesty as he can. It's a surprising story." And inspiring, even for one of the most powerful men in the world.

Books and movies can provide the stimulus we can not always get from the people around us. "Rocky" gives hope to contempt. "The Pursuit of Happyness" suggests that everything is possible. Find a plot to copy an agreement. "The most effective [biographies] it will resonate with its own background, "says Steel.

Not everyone can drag a book per week, but motivational speeches and podcasts are played from every corner of the Internet. "Great athletes, heroes and businesspeople usually talk about their experiences," says Steel. "Find them".

Get inspired on the morning trip, and you'll be amazed at what you can do throughout the day.

November: Ask for help

Another of Goldsmith's magic movements is to ask for help. "Few people will reject your sincere plea," he says. "Asking for help keeps the process of change, keeps it moving forward."

When you touch an obstacle, call friends who have achieved similar goals or your professional mentor. Most people feel honored that you have received the assistance.

And when you're ready to make the white flag, call the experts. There are resources to support almost all ambitions, from amateur cooking classes to professional development programs. Beyoncé even worked with a vocal coach to achieve his world domain goal.

December: Applauds the success – or the lessons learned

The end of the year is a time to reflect on progress toward your goal or suffer back to achieve this.

Is there any shame about not meeting a resolution? "It depends on the target," says Andrews. "If you have to stop doing something abusive for you or for someone else, it's probably not good to give up. Or it could be that your goal was not what you were after. Do you know what? It's your life and you arrive To decide. Failure is not a failure if you learn something. It's just a roadstep to success. "

Contemplate the obstacles and processes this year and re-work your strategy for next year. There is seldom a time for prosperity.

Ready to start?

Develop your personal plan to comply with your resolutions with a 12-month worksheet that you can download here.

MacKenzie Kassab

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