How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Work

A new year, a new healthier and happier you! A chance to think about your hopes and dreams and take a crack at making them come true. So many things to look forward to, the year is full of promise and hope.

Do you start off the year strong taking action on your goals only to fizzle out later or maybe you just think about them but they never take off?

A friend of mine runs one of the most popular Equinoxes in NYC. He told me January is a hot month, people come streaming in to work out, but come February the gym is back to having just the handful of regulars coming in.

What sets these regulars apart from the gun-ho crowd in January?

In one word: systems. Yes, you heard me, systems not just goals or New Year’s resolutions that fall flat.

Systems are exactly what have helped me stay healthy and fit and they can help you too.

It’s what Scott Adams says propelled his career forward that lead him to his success in his career and later with his cartoon Dilbert. It was systems that got him ahead NOT willpower or goals.

One such system he adopted early in his corporate career before Dilbert was to continually look for better options in the job market. An idea he got from a businessman who had given him advice to make job searching an ongoing process, not only to be done when necessary. This businessman used systems to make it to CEO of a company.

Notice it’s about working towards something continuously and persistently.

Let’s say you have a New Year’s resolution or goal to lose 10 pounds in a couple of months. It’s a great S.M.A.R.T. goal. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Congrats! You’ve nailed one of the most recognized and used methods for defining a goal. I used it all the time when I was in the corporate world.

Many would say you’re odds of achieving it are even greater when you define your goals. But are they? Would you really stick to your goal and, in this case keep, the 10 pounds off? For many, losing weight usually means gaining it all back and then some.

Adams distinguishes a goal from a system. A goal is something specific you achieve or don’t in the future and a system is something you do continuously to increase your odds at happiness for the long term like your career or health.

So in the case of losing 10 pounds, you may or may not achieve it. If you change it into a system of eating healthy foods that are right for your body and leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s likely to become long-lasting and increase your odds at succeeding and ultimately being healthier and happier.

Say if you reach your goal of losing 10 pounds what then? You may feel happy and most likely will at least for a while. You’ve reached it and then you are done. I know for myself in the past this never worked. I could lose 10 pounds, but it would inevitably come back and maybe even more. I would be done with an often rigid restricting diet and, as soon as I reached my goal, I’d go off and reward myself with all the goodies I could not eat during my diet. It was hard.

With a system, Adams says when you do it on a regular basis, like eating healthy, you’ll get to a better place in life. There is no deadline, it’s just a part of your everyday life.

Kirsi Bhasin helps working women sleep, eat and live better. She contributes to The Huffington Post on Healthy Living and is an expert member of Dr. Oz’s Sharecare community of top-ranking health experts. Need to relax and take the edge off? Download your free copy of “7 Quick & Simple Ways to Relax” here.

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