Monday, March 15, 2010

Resolutions a Dim Memory? Getting Back on the Fast Track

By Pat Barone, CPCC, PCC
"America's Weight Loss Catalyst"

For many of us, our New Year's Resolutions have faded in the dust as we have beat feet into a new year of stress and activity.

No worries.  Feeling guilty or blaming the demise of a resolution does us no good.  In fact, it does provide the perfect time to re-assess them. 

We know most resolutions fail but the figures are actually staggering.  A whopping 75% of all resolutions find life's recycle bin by January 31st!

The University of Washington conducted a study of resolutions and found one very distinct difference about the 25% who kept their goals alive.

No, they did not have more money to hire help.  And their goals weren't easier.

The difference was … time!

The average achiever in the study took a full three weeks to plan their approach to their goals, doing research, preparing their lives and creating a support network.

Imagine… taking more time, not less.  Sounds remarkably similar to my rants about the slow approach to permanent weight loss!

The study also found that, among those who abandoned their resolutions, the decision to adopt a resolution was relatively quick – sometimes even a spur of the moment decision on Jan. 31st – and often in response to guilty feelings about their indulgences during the holidays. 

No preparation or thought process was followed.  These resolution makers also often made the same resolution, year after year, with just as little careful consideration.

If this approach describes you, or if you don't make resolutions but do want to achieve a particular goal, now is the perfect time to begin the process.

After all, we're past the post-holiday blues.  We're coming out of the deepest part of winter (January) and we've turned the corner to spring.  The disruption of the holidays is in the past.  The Christmas lights and Hanukkah decorations are packed away.

So, in order to make your resolution a fact this year, SLOW WAY DOWN!  Take a full three weeks to thoroughly think through and design a plan to achieve that important goal.

Here are some steps that will lead to success:

1.        Decide what to discard – Take a good look at past attempts at attaining the goal.  What got in your way?  No matter what that is, clear it out of your life.  It may be your own excuses, some bad influences, or a cabinet full of cookies. 

2.       Specify the goal - Emphasis here is on the word "specify."  You want to be very specific about your goal.  "I want to lose weight" is indefinite.  "I want to weigh 150 lbs. by Thanksgiving" is specific. 

3.        Know your personal "why" – Knowing why you want to achieve something is very important.  It needs to have real feeling and juice behind it.  "Because I want to wear a size 10" isn't juicy, sexy or emotional.  And it ain't going to happen either.  Your "why" becomes your prime motivator so make it something that is deeply meaningful to you.  When I was losing weight, I was very clear about my feelings for my son and I wanted him to grow up with a healthy mother.  My own father was an alcoholic and my mother was an eater.  I had spent my own childhood deeply ashamed of my parents.  I felt passionate about my son and I was determined that he have a different experience than I had.  Once I located that great well of feeling inside me, it was easy to access that feeling for motivation whenever I needed it.

4.       Go backwards from the goal to get action steps – Always start making your plan with the goal first and move backwards from it, designing the steps to reach the end you want.  If your goal is to change jobs, it might be easy to just start sending out resumes.  But, if you start with the goal and fully describe it (getting specific!), you'll find a different path to that goal.  For instance, if your goal is a "challenging research position with a biochemistry company", your first step BACK from that goal might be "meeting with people who hire within biochemistry companies."  Then, the next one might be "identifying companies I'd like to work for."  You can see that the steps will look different.

5.       Design a plan – This includes research, preparation, scheduling, coordinating and tracking your efforts for accountability.  Don't forget to include a communication step – make sure KEY people in your life know your plans.  Certain family members and friends can be called on for support or be aware they need to give you the space to execute your plan but, first, they need to be privy to your plan.

6.       Execute - Execution begins only after you've spent substantial time ironing out all the details and you're fully prepared, physical and mentally, to proceed.

Again, slow down, and take your time.  One of the added lessons I learned while losing over 70 lbs (and then sustaining that weight loss for the last ten years), was that I realized most of life is pretty much like weight loss:  if you go too fast or want instant results, you get no where.

Any goal that is meaningful to you is worth the investment of your time and resources.  For big results, always give a serious effort!

Pat Barone earned her title "America's Weight Loss Catalyst" by coaching thousands of clients toward permanent weight loss.  Her status as an expert is heightened by her own personal weight loss success.  She regularly busts diet myths in her free newsletter "The Catalyst", available at and she blogs at

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