Sticking to your New Year's resolutions

Tips to successfully reach those 2012 goals

Resolve to keep resolutions

Many health clubs see a surge in business of 25 percent immediately after the new year, only to see those numbers level off by spring. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images / July 19, 2012)

It's resolution time, and once again we prepare ourselves to be disappointed with our inability to shed those pounds or quit those bad habits. Is it possible that the right approach to the resolution process could really produce results? Steve Siebold, author of the book "177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class," said it can be done — if you refuse to fail.

"If someone tells me they're doing 'pretty good,' that means they're not following through with their resolution," Siebold said. "If you tell your spouse you were 99 percent faithful, how do you think that's going to go over? You should take the same approach with a resolution. You either go through with it or you don't."

Siebold spent 27 years interviewing successful people, and said there were major distinctions in the thinking of those who did well compared with those who failed.

"Someone who decides to succeed has made a decision to prepare," he said. "It's not about just playing the lottery, which is expecting luck to take you there. That's not preparing. It's lazy. If you want to follow through you need to be willing to pay any price and bear any burden."

Here are some of Siebold's tips for sticking to those New Year's resolutions:

Get a resolution buddy. "But don't just choose anyone," he said. "It helps to partner with someone who really makes you push yourself. If you have a friend who is doing amazing things, and they're in your corner, it inspires you to do more. Make each other accountable and report back to them frequently."

Write a letter. "I ask people to write a letter and describe their life to a friend as if they haven't seen them in a while," he said. "They should detail the way they'd want things to be in five years. Some prefer one year, others like three years. It's whatever motivates you the most. If they read this letter every day, it helps keep them on track."

Make a motivation board. Siebold recommends you cut out pictures of things that motivate you, paste or tape them to a board and put it somewhere visible. "It triggers your subconscious," he said. "But the things you put on this board have to operate within your belief system, while still pushing the boundaries a bit. You want a belief that actually means something to you. To have a board that says you want to be the president of the United States, and you have no training in government, just doesn't make sense. So you want to be motivated, and not completely unrealistic or out of context with your life goals."

Know it won't be easy. "I tell people they need to expect to feel pain or suffer, and this isn't a popular one, but it's the truth," he said. "So many refuse to suffer, so they play the middle and try to avoid pain and still think they can get what they want. But that's not how it works."

Cut out the negative talk. "Seventy-seven percent of what we say to ourselves is negative," Siebold said. "We are programming ourselves for failure. Negative thinking is limiting … we say these things so many times to ourselves we start to believe it."

Forget what other people think. "We call this 'approval addiction' and it's really a big deal," he said. "We interviewed thousands of people and asked, on a scale of one to seven, seven being the most addicted to what people think of you, what number would you be?

"The truly successful people usually rated themselves a two or three. They care but it doesn't prevent them from moving forward. But the average person in corporate America scores themselves as a five or a six. They really care, and of course that limits them. You are doing this resolution for you, and not for someone else to judge you."

Be honest. "Ask yourself if it's something you're committed to, or if this resolution is a preference," he said. "If you just 'prefer' to lose a few pounds, you will fail. If (you're) committed, it's a whole other thing."

jweigel@tribune.com

Twitter: @jenweigel

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