Making New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep

by | Dec 22, 2021 |

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The famous motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Each of us knows from our own experiences that he was right. The general flow of human life tends to be toward ease and comfort. One day flows into the next, and many of us never quite get around to turning our good intentions into reality.

Those ‘good intentions,’ while no doubt admirable, tend to remain unrealized mainly because they are too vague. Vague ideas are impossible to focus on and aim for; they are moving targets.

Do you have moving targets in your life? Perhaps you want to eat a healthier diet or lose the winter weight that has crept up on you. Maybe you just want to establish a regular workout routine and stick with it this time.

The keys to your success are two-fold: steady the target and create momentum.  

How to stop a moving target

Imagine a target shooter trying to hit a small bull’s eye on a distant target. He begins to aim, but then the target suddenly moves to the right, and, before he can position himself to aim again, the target darts to the left. Will he ever hit that target? Not likely.

Without setting specific goals, your good intentions are exactly like that moving target. You would like to be stronger with more endurance and feel better overall. You hear everywhere that fitness through exercise and a more sensible diet would achieve those goals. And it is totally true, but without clearly defined goals and methods, you can’t focus and make it happen.

The way to steady the target so you can finally hit the bull’s eye is to define your goals and write them down:

  • How many days per week are you willing to exercise?
  • Which article of clothing do you wish would fit your body again?
  • How much weight would you like to lift while strength training?
  • How much weight do you want to lose?
  • How much change are you willing to make in what you eat regularly?

Once you know where you want to end up, you are much more likely to get there.

But you have to start moving toward your goals. That is where momentum comes in.

Create momentum to reach your goals

In his book, Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy discusses the “Momentum Principle of Success.” In Tracy’s words: 

This principle says that although it may take tremendous amounts of energy to overcome inertia and get started initially, it then takes far less energy to keep going. Actually, Isaac Newton discovered this hundreds of years ago, and it is called the Law of Inertia.”

There is much wisdom in Newton’s discovery. Sometimes, the hardest part of reaching a goal is just getting started. That first day of doing things differently or the first experience of bypassing an unhealthy treat in favor of a food that is actually good for you can be daunting. But the ultimate rewards will prove well worth the often-uncomfortable effort.  

So how do you get that momentum? How do you start moving? Accountability is the answer. Having someone else involved in your efforts can be the most important factor in your success. It is hard to change lifelong habits on your own. You need radical motivation that comes from involving others in your efforts.  

Setting deadlines, making commitments, and entering contests all provide an external motivation that will carry you through even the toughest temptations.

And once you get started, you will find that the momentum principle kicks in, and it becomes easier and easier to keep going. 

 

Dr. Jay Lehr, the senior author of this article, had a life-changing experience with this. He decided he wanted to play a sport that he had never done before in college. He was actually scared, so he told everyone he could find on campus he was going to go out for the school football team. When the season started, scared or not, he had to go through with it. He spent most of the games on the bench but eventually played ten years of minor league football after college.

Similarly, Tom Harris, the junior author of this article, decided he wanted to make a major university basketball team. So, he told his friends that that was exactly what he would do. To try to help this come about, he went to the K.C. Jones Basketball Camp for young people in the summer of 1970. His personal coach for the week was 6-foot-8, 240-pound Wayne Embry (“The Wall”), just retired from the Milwaukee Bucks. When they played one-on-one, the junior author scored a couple of times and so was pretty pumped. Mr. Embry responded, “Do you want me to try?” Then, not only did this article’s junior author never score again, but Mr. Embry blocked every shot, even stuffing him all the way to the floor. NBA hoop dreams vanished that day. But, the goal of making a university basketball team did come true, thanks to Mr. Embry’s coaching and the establishment of a steady target, and the inspiration and momentum generated from participating in K.C. Jones’ camp.

You, too, can make that moving target come to a screeching halt and blast the bull’s eye right out of it by taking a few minutes to write down what you want. Don’t make your goals too broad; be specific. And then begin brainstorming ways to get others involved with you; that will help provide your momentum.  

The authors of this article had reasonable success as athletes but, as they aged, they saw the advantages of staying younger than their peers through fitness. During this weekend of Christmas Joy and soon to be the days of New Year’s Resolutions, our guest on The Other Side of the Story will be one of the nation’s best fitness trainers, Greg Jasnikowski, CPT, MPE, who trains people from around the world in his Zoom classes. Please give yourself a fitness present by listening to our radio program on the America Out Loud Talk Radio Network at 11 am and 8 pm on Sunday, December 26th, or starting on Monday, the podcast of the program. You’ll be glad you did!

1Tracy, Brian (2007-01-01). Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (p. 107). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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