Experts say honesty, positive mindset and language keys to keeping New Year’s resolutions
By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Connecticut - posted Tue., Dec. 31, 2013
Jeff Forte used to have a sweet tooth for the small Snickers bars. He would keep a bag in his freezer and then grab one when the craving hit. But then one day he decided he wasn’t going to eat the Snickers anymore, so he took the bag of candy out of his freezer and put it in his refrigerator, where he would see it more often.
“I put it there for five years so I could say every day to the Snickers, 'I’m never going to have another one of you ever again in my life.' That’s commitment,” said Forte, an executive coach with Peak Results Coaching in Glastonbury. Forte hasn’t had a Snickers since, and the key for him to achieving his goal was his level of commitment and focus on what he wanted to achieve.
As the calendar rolls over to 2014, many of us will start making our own goals and New Year’s resolutions for the coming year, but how do we actually achieve these goals instead of letting them become unfulfilled promises to ourselves? According to Forte, 25 percent of the people who make New Year’s resolutions will abandon them within the first week, while about 40 percent will lose sight of their resolutions within the first month.
Those are pretty daunting numbers when you think about how many people actually make New Year’s resolutions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals. It can be done, and Forte has laid out five simple steps to help people achieve their goals. But before embarking on this year’s list of New Year’s resolutions, you must first have a positive mindset that will serve as your foundation for going through the steps to achieve your goal.
To begin with, you must be honest with yourself. For example, if weight loss is your resolution for this year, Forte said you must ask yourself what exactly you are willing to do to make this change. "Can you go for a 15-minute walk every day that you’re not doing today? Can you spend three minutes in the morning doing pushups or squats or sit-ups?,” asked Forte.
While you’re going through the process you have to be honest with yourself about your effort and level of commitment, he pointed out. And these are answers that don’t have to be shared with anyone else if you don’t want to – just make sure that you are honest with yourself, because if you’re not, the only one you’re cheating is yourself.
Which brings us to the next element of the solid foundation – liking yourself. This may sound kind of simple, but really, be honest with yourself and assess how much you like yourself. “If we love ourselves fully and completely, we’ll do whatever it takes to get the things that we know are good for us,” said Forte.
To prove the power of loving yourself, Forte conducted an experiment a few years ago with a group of women who were dealing with weight loss. He didn’t speak with them about diet or nutrition, he just focused on helping them love themselves a little bit more. “And at the end of a month, on average, they lost about 20 pounds,” said Forte.
Another element that is key to a good foundation for a successful completion of a resolution is positive language and changing the way we talk, said Forte. “For example, 'I have to go to the gym' or 'I can’t eat that.' Those words disempower us. They immediately build in resistance, so our programmed language is hurting us and we don’t realize it,” said Forte.
Forte suggests adjusting the language to have a more positive impact, such as, “I’m going to the gym. I’m eating this instead,” said Forte. “When we change the language in those simple little ways, get rid of 'I should do this' and 'I can’t do that' to 'I’m going to do this' and 'I’m doing this instead,' then the resistance will fade away,” he said. “So you kind of have to re-program yourself a little bit if you really want to achieve these things.”
Now that you have a good foundation of being honest with yourself, loving yourself more and using good, positive language, you are ready to utilize Forte’s five steps to achieving your resolution:
The first step is being clear on what you want. So if weight loss is your goal, then how much weight do you want to lose and what does that mean?
Next, is your goal or resolution really compelling? “Of all the things we get to chose in our life to change, why this?” said Forte. You must ask yourself why this goal is so important to you and how are you going to benefit from it? “The more clear and the more compelling something is, the more it’s going to pull us, so we don’t have to push ourselves to go do it,” said Forte.
The third step is your strategy. What is your plan? So if you want to lose 20 pounds, how are you going to achieve this? Forte said it’s best to keep your plan of strategy "as effective as possible and as simple as possible.”
Next, you need to measure your results and track your progress, and this is where honesty comes in again. Forte said he likes to measure “people’s impact of effort, meaning that when they look at themselves at the end of the day on a scale of 1 to 10 – 10, I did everything or 1, I did nothing – where are you at?”
And the final element is to remember to reward yourself and celebrate your successes along the way. “We need to be kinder to ourselves,” said Forte, “catch ourselves doing things right.”
Since the process of achieving a New Year’s resolution such as weight loss can seem overwhelming at first, Forte suggests taking small steps to begin with and then work your way up to your goal.
Joel Booker, a sales counselor at LA Fitness in South Windsor, said that is the same advice they also give their new members. “I think people throw themselves into it too much,” said Booker. “It’s either, we’re not doing anything or we’re doing it 100 percent. There’s no gradual increase in what you’re doing.”
Booker said it’s important for people to get through the first 30 days working out in order to create a lifestyle change that they can sustain and help them achieve their goals. “The idea is that if someone comes and works out for over a month solid, they’re going to carry on with that,” said Booker. “Whereas, if they just kind of give up after two weeks, then they’re pretty much done.”
Forte said if you get sidetracked on your path to achieving your resolution, then you need to re-commit and continue to use supportive language. “I’m choosing to do this. I’m going to do that,” said Forte. “That’s the language of somebody who’s going to succeed, versus, 'I have to go do this now.' That resistance is already coming up.”
Forte said the two keys to success to actually achieve your New Year’s resolutions are clarity and courage. “The more precise you are about what you want, the more the process unfolds for you to go after it.”
For more information about Jeff Forte, visit his website at http://peakresultscoaching.com.