The Magic Idea That Makes Resolutions Stick

While it’s a fun idea to begin new habits on the first day of a new year, take some time to think about why you intend to change. The best resolutions are carefully thought out and the ones that stick have a specific plan of implementation and this magic idea:

The resolution is based on a feeling that you want to feel.

What does that mean? If you think about resolutions, many of them focus on things like saving money, losing weight, being on time, and spending more time with people we care about. Or sometimes they are specific to activities: taking up a new sport or language, learning to cook, starting a business.

focus on the feeling you want from your resolution

But what these resolutions are really about are a specific feeling that we are after. A number on the scale might be good enough on its own for a few weeks worth of willpower, but to really make lasting changes that will get you past the first 5 pounds, you need to think about how you actually hope to feel once you are in shape.

Why is it important to you that you be on time, or, for that matter, spend more time with people you care about? These resolutions are about seeking a feeling (or avoiding one, perhaps, in the case of the chronically late). We want to feel less rushed. We want to feel the warmth of evenings spent laughing with our friends and family. We are seeking an experience.

When you can focus on the feeling you seek, it also makes it easier to acknowledge the accomplishments that you do make towards your goal. If you want to lose weight, you might be seeking a feeling of strength, health, or attractiveness. Having identified these, when you do complete a workout, or like the way you look in an item of clothing, you are more likely to notice this even if the scale does not yet accurately reflect your goal destination.

If you are taking up a new hobby or skill with this idea in mind, you will be on the lookout for the feeling of accomplishment, a thrill of something new that you have mastered — and this is available to you along the way as you master that language or sport.

You might say that focusing on the feeling behind your resolution is a way that you can enjoy the journey and as part of the reward toward your goals.