New Year`s Resolutions!
I don't know how you feel about New Year's resolutions, but I gave up on them a long time ago – out of frustration because I hardly ever achieved my goals, or even abandoned them before the end of January (and on one occasion before January 2nd).

On the other hand, during the year I do make resolutions, I do set goals, and I do get the desired results - well, most of the time ;). So, what goes wrong with my New Year's Resolutions? As New Year is still a few weeks away, I thought why not use this remaining time to find out, and who knows, maybe this year I can come up with a good, feasible resolution that will help me to leave the trap of my experience.

Here some factors which might determine or contribute to the success or failure of my resolutions:

Motivation! Motivation?

Has, perhaps, the word "jumpstart" in the title caught your attention? To me, "jumpstart" is very attractive because it seems to promise quick first results, and immediate positive feedback will motivate me to keep on going: I have proof that my efforts are getting me somewhere I want to go.

According to TheFreeDictionary the general definition of "jumpstart" (nr. 2) is "To provide a speedy start to (an activity) using the assistance of some external impetus; to re-energize (an activity proceeding sluggishly); - accomplished by application of a stimulus not normally used in the activity."

Let me take these sentences apart and rewrite the phrases as questions:

• "activity": my goal, what I want to do – What is the essence of my resolution? Is it about a clearly defined result, or rather an ongoing process? How long will it take? How can I measure my "success"? How important is my goal for me? Will it be easier for me to stick with a really important decision (even if it's difficult to do), or should I first gain experience and confidence with "warm-up" goals that are smaller, and easier to accomplish?

• "provide a speedy start": initial, genuine enthusiasm – Why do I want to do it? How do I feel about it? Am I really interested in changing something, or am I going to do it just because I think I should, or because I've been told to think I should? What can I do to recall this first, energizing enthusiasm in "times of need"? Do I feel an uncomfortable pressure, or is it a welcome challenge?

• "external impetus" and "stimulus not normally used in the activity": a special event or day, for instance New Year – Will setting a date, planning for an occasion, or making an "official" statement help me? Will the possibility of "shame" rather support me in my endeavours or will it only result in my feeling pressurized instead of being relaxed about it?

• "re-energize": overcoming obstacles through extra benefits and other rewards – Which problems can I expect on my way (this applies especially if a resolution has to do with habits, obsessions or addictions)? How can I deal with possible doubts? What will help me to stay on the track? What will get me back on track after a detour? Where can I find help and support? Outside of my primary goal, what can I do to keep me motivated?

I believe that motivation is very individual, as it has a lot to do with our experience and personality, how we react to success, relapse and failure, and to internal or external pressure. For example, I know that, initially, I tend to resent pressure ("circumstances" as well as the "I must" and "I should" in my head), but that eventually I am able to adapt, or at least find alternative points of view. Still, what is the most likely to lead me to the desired result is having no other reason than "just because" – it seems to contain all I need to get me started and to keep me going :)

And what is your personal "motivation pattern"?

Déja Vu … !?

This is the good old "trial & error" method: Recalling what has worked well for us in the past, and which are our "favourite" traps or mistakes (and what exactly went wrong) gives us a very detailed guideline of what to repeat and what to avoid. Plus: Having overcome some of our old, obsolete behaviours is one of the greatest rewards and best motivators ever 

Resolution? Resolution!

Resolutions are like good ideas: Unless you act on them, they might just as well not exist.

TheFreeDictionary's definition of "resolution" appropriate for New Year's resolution is nr. 3: "A course of action determined or decided on." In other words, it's not enough to find and to decide on a goal, you also need a way and a means of transport to get there.

In "What's Your Info Barrel New Year's Resolution?" you find a very detailed description of how to break down your goal into small, feasible steps. Although the article focuses on writing goals, the method itself can be adapted for almost anything.

A "Safety Net" !

Instead of repeating the contents of the article mentioned above, I want to concentrate on something else you might be confronted with: Clearly defined goals and a well structured plan will in many cases be enough to achieve your aim, but obstacles, detours and "bumps in the road" can be expected. - "Travelling" is much more relaxed and enjoyable when you feel safe, and the best preparation for a long journey is to anticipate problems and to remain flexible.

Even while developing your action plan you might feel doubts about certain aspects. Have a closer look at them and see what you can do about them. If you are stuck at some point, try to see it from one or more different points of view. For instance, imagine you were someone else (perhaps someone you know or admire): How would he/she deal with it? Or imagine you were an eagle, circling high above the problem, seeing it in its context. From your elevated point of view you might find a different approach or entrance.

If you still have doubts, you can test your action plan or some parts of it. During this test run you can not only check for hidden problems but also find out how long you can keep at it. If necessary, modify your plan and make it more realistic and achievable. - You might just be ready to go by New Year's Eve ;)

… and again, …

Last but not least a link to the lyrics of one of my favourite songs: "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again" :)