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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, March 29

Gapers Block

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Right around this time of year, many people start to dream up New Year's resolutions. It can be an incredible feeling to know you are about to start on a critical, invigorating and uplifting self-improvement project.

January 1st: "Wow... I am going to lose 20 pounds and keep the weight off this time! Awesome! I am going to tackle that do-it-yourself project with a smile that I have been putting off for so long — painting the garage and I might as well rework the yard landscaping while I'm at it! I'm going to cut my non-essential spending and put an extra $5,000 in savings this year!! I can't wait to learn a foreign language and travel to a country that speaks it!!! And this year I will be able to get it all done because I am finally going to get some work/life balance, and not spend so much of my time at the office!!! I AM FULL OF IDEAS AND ENERGY, AND IT FEELS GREAT!!!"

Fast-forward to February 9th: "Hmm... Valentine's Day is around the corner... I need to find a romantic, fine restaurant for dinner — there goes another $150. I think my suit feels a little tight from all the New Year's, playoffs and Superbowl parties, but one great French meal won't hurt, will it? After all, it's another special occasion. Now where did I put her Valentine's Day gift... I know it's around here somewhere. I'd better find it. I don't have time to get something else, with all the extra hours I have to spend at work this week. Maybe it's buried under all the painting supplies I bought last month. What was I thinking when I paid good money for this chartreuse paint, anyway? It's getting way too cluttered in here. I hope refinishing the floor from that can of spilled paint won't be too expensive. And I wish all this snow would go away so I could get to work on the yard! Actually, I've been too busy with these Portuguese books and tapes to really care. I still don't understand how to say 'All these tapes, books, paint and parties have made me broke' in Portuguese anyway. Uggghhhh! Pass me another snickerdoodle."

Does this happen to you? Well, this particular scenario may be a little far-fetched, but I'm sure you get the idea. Often we have the best intentions when making our resolutions (hey, there's a reason it rhymes with "destitution"), but end up failing or never starting because we haven't properly designed them. We think of the end result without focusing enough on the many steps it will take to get there. And, worst case scenario, not achieving your resolution can be worse than never having contemplated it in the first place because you ultimately feel like you have failed. So, is your New Year's resolution usually a friend or a foe?


Just as many people are dreaming up new resolutions, many others are wondering if it's worth the bother. The difference in success or failure most often lies in the design of the goal. Trying to improve yourself and your happiness is definitely worth spending a little time exploring. Here are three important tips to help you conquer your New Year's resolutions, and some questions to determine if you have created an achievable goal:

1. Clear your vision for success:
Do you have a clear vision of where you want to be after the resolution runs its course? What will that picture look like? Spend some time writing down or talking with someone about the benefits of achieving this resolution and the negative consequences if you don't. Consider whether this is a one-time plan or an on-going life-style change that you need to make.

2. Create a sound plan to carry out:
Do you have an understandable strategy on how you want to get there? It's important to know exactly what steps and time-bound actions to take as well as how you will know when you've accomplished the goal. This means knowing what measurable actions or effects you will track to see if it's working. Determine if you can see any obstacles that may show themselves. How will you handle these to make sure your plan won't derail?

3. Make sure you have accountability for your actions:
What is your support and accountability structure? When you typically initiate an action plan or goal, what keeps you motivated, challenged and engaged? People frequently start and stop goals or resolutions because they are easy to forget or ignore, or become too difficult or perhaps even boring. If you are someone that gets better results when working with others, use the buddy system. Work with a friend, family member or someone else that will help you with vision, planning and accountability. Some people find it very helpful to additionally work with a professionally trained life or business coach to ensure you have covered all your bases and have a plan that will not fail.

Whatever your New Year's resolutions might be, make sure you take the steps necessary to succeed. It will be well worth the effort you put in on the front end, and successfully accomplishing one resolution can give you the courage and inspiration to tackle other parts of your life. No matter what, you will learn from the journey and be better for it in the end.

Enjoy your New Year's resolutions. Don't let them be foes.


About the Author(s)

Jason Rosado is the principal of Distinctive Coaching, a Chicago-based life and business coaching practice that helps people focus their vision, clear obstacles and achieve results. For more information, visit

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