Happy New Year! The purpose of celebrating New Year's is not to celebrate the start of a new year, but the beginning of a new YOU, an improved you, a more enlightened you, a more powerful you. And we start our journey to a new, improved self by making New Year's Resolutions. Do you agree? If you do, you belong to the group of about 42% of Americans who feel the same way.
But after they make their resolutions, do they live up to them? I'm afraid four out of five will eventually break them. In fact, one third won't even make it to the end of the month (January). Why are so many well intentioned people so unsuccessful? Well, most of the unsuccessful started out on the wrong foot. That is, they didn't spend enough time thinking about what "resolution" means. A resolution is a commitment, not a wish. It is a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. Once you accept that definition and abide by it, you are committed to success.
If we wish to be successful, what is the only New Year's resolution we need to make? It is to carry out our resolutions! There's no point in making promises if we don't keep them. Ben Franklin  suggests we keep two resolutions (the one I suggested and another one). Here are his exact words, "Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
How did you fare? Did you make any New Year's resolutions last year? If not, why not? If you didn't, here are five reasons why you should this year.
1. How can you achieve anything unless you first plan to? A resolution is the announcement of your plan to act and improve your life. It is your first step to success.
2. When you make resolutions and work at achieving them, you develop the key to success, which is self-discipline, or more aptly called self-leadership.
3. By making one or more resolutions, you acknowledge that what happens to you is your responsibility. This is an empowering position that leads to results.
4. Research shows that those who make resolutions are ten times more likely to reach their goals than those who don't!
5. Although it helps to set goals any day of the year, setting New Year's Resolutions is a good idea, for you are setting a milestone or reference point that makes it easy to track your progress and compare it with previous efforts.
But what if you made resolutions last year and were unsuccessful? Failure is not a cause of regret if we learn from it. If you were unsuccessful, here are some questions you need to ask yourself.
"Did I make a commitment or merely have a wish? Did I overreach; bite off more than I could chew?
Was I sufficiently motivated? Do I understand that motivation is mentally experiencing the benefits of our goals before we achieve them? Do I realize that by regularly visualizing the benefits in my imagination, I will become energized and inspired to take action? What did I do wrong last year and how can I correct my mistakes? Were my resolutions something I wanted to do or was it something I was pressured into? Were my resolutions believable? Were they meaningful enough to inspire me?"
Here is a simple 13-step plan that will lead you to success.
1. Review last year by asking yourself the above questions.
2. Learn from your mistakes. When you do so, you stop thinking of yourself as a failure and lose the desire to quit
3. Create a "Victory Journal" and list your 2010 successes in it. Add a new list every year, so you can try to better your performance each year.
4. List the goals you wish to achieve this year.
5. Prioritize the list in order of importance.
6. Break down the first item on your list into the steps you have to take to reach your goal.
7. Schedule the steps you need to take in your calendar.
8. Implement your plan by starting on the first item.
9. Don't just start, but, follow through on all the necessary steps.
10. Monitor your progress. Doing so keeps you focused on success.
11. Take corrective action as the need arises.
12. Add your successes to your 2011 victory list in your Victory Journal.
13. Celebrate your success and reward yourself.
The Rules of C(huck)
For maximum success, follow these "C" rules:
1. Work your plan constantly, continually.
2. Be consistent, stay focused.
3. Apply concentrated effort.
4. Remain committed.
5. Take considered, careful, andcalculated action.
6. Confirm that you are taking the right steps by monitoring your actions.
7. Be conscientious; do the right thing because you are the beneficiary.
8. Your success is more important than fear, so don't let it block you. Stay courageous.
9. Avoid wishy-washy, ambiguous action. Take clear action; precision is called for.
10. Work toward completion, carry through.
11. Don't be afraid to be conciliatory or to make concessions. After all, half a pie is better than no pie.
1. Don't let brick walls (obstacles) stop you. Rather, welcome them, for they weed out the weak hearted and prevent your competitors from succeeding. In a word, they allow you to prove you have the commitment others lack.
2. If you find yourself getting stuck because of procrastination, read the following article: http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/no-willpower.htm
3. Stop making excuses and take responsibility for your life. Remember, you are the CEO of YOU Inc. Your future is created by the decisions and choices you make.
4. If you run too many computer programs at the same time, your computer will slow down and grow ineffective. Those who have that problem can install more RAM and improve the performance of their computer. However, we can neither buy nor install more memory for our brain. Trying to remember the countless tasks, projects, and responsibilities we have will result in mistakes and failures. To take full advantage of the processing power of our brain, write everything down. And once you have done so, schedule time to regularly review your notes so you can remain in control.
5. Remain focused on what is important. Don't be led astray by distractions. Often ask yourself if what you are doing is in your best interest.
6. Impatience is the ruin of many. Often, people give up when they would have succeeded if they had only persevered.
7. When you, your work environment, or both are disorganized, productivity falls and opportunities are lost. If you need help in this area, your local bookstore or library can provide books that will guide you to an organized life free of clutter and distractions.
8. Even the best of intentions can be defeated if you lack the energy to work effectively. To prevent this from happening, eat balanced meals, exercise, have sufficient sleep, and practice relaxation exercises to reduce stress.
9. The average person does not follow a success system. Any system will do in the beginning. By system, I mean a guide to success which can come in the form of a book, audio program, or seminar. The advantages of following a system include being introduced to ideas and practices that would take many years to learn by yourself. Studying a program also keeps you focused on success and reduces the likelihood of failure.
10. Ultimately, the major cause of success is action; it is the key to transforming a wish to a goal.
11. The best of us occasionally trip and fall. Expect a relapse; don't be surprised by it. Just because you slip back into a bad habit, it is not a reason to stop trying. Rather, it is a sign to remain alert. It is also a reminder to monitor your progress on a daily basis. This way, if you do slip, you will lose only one day.
12. Avoid behavior, people, and places that may lead you away from your goals. Keeping a resolution is difficult enough; don't add to your problems by exposing yourself to temptation.
13. Work with goals that depend on your efforts rather than ones that lie outside of your control.
14. Like stars to a mariner, your goals should guide you, not govern you. At times, life plans more for you than you do, so don't keep your eyes too firmly fixed on the goal or you may miss a greater opportunity. Remain open and flexible.
15. In his 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University, Steve Jobs  made a memorable statement, "Death is very likely the single best invention of Life." He was referring to the fact that life refreshes itself, brings in new blood and new ideas by eliminating the past and creating a future with new generations. I also find death to be a great invention of life, but for a different reason. I find it to be the agent of change because as we feel the breath of the Grim Reaper, we are spurred on to take action while we still have time. For this reason, I believe it is a good idea to remind ourselves of our mortality on a daily basis. I'm not suggesting a morbid fixation on death, but just enough awareness that we are motivated to act now.
16. Don't set your goals in stone. Rather reevaluate them from time to time. Circumstances change. Ask yourself if your goals are still aligned with your dreams and the times you live in. Do they still excite you or do you have new interests that clamor for your attention?
If you wish to experience a truly successful 2011, abandon the notion that "A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one (y)ear and out the other." Rather, follow Ben Franklin's advice, "Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man."
For my comments on New Year's Resolutions in previous years, see:
 Benjamin Franklin (1706~1790, printer whose success as an author led him to take up politics; he helped draw up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; he played a major role in the American Revolution and negotiated French support for the colonists; as a scientist he is remembered particularly for his research in electricity.)
 Steve Jobs (b. 1955, co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple, former chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios, and currently a member of Disney's Board of Directors.)
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