New Years resolution
Think about the various commitments you and many others have made over the years. We did, and came up with this very brief list of common resolutions we typically hear before the new year:
I'll lose weight.

I'll stop smoking.

I'll spend more time with my partner, or with my children.

I will save money.

I will be less stressed out.
Then, somewhere around the second week of January, those promises go the way of all the other promises. Some of us may not fall off the wagon until a few months later, but by year's end most of us will not have made it through as we had indented. We start snacking, smoking, or spending more time at the office. We swipe the credit card impunitively. And most of us have found out the hard way that we cannot simply wish our stress away...

According to the University of Scranton's Journal of Clinical Psychology only 8% of people are successful in achieving their New Year's resolution. We are not surprised. Many promises are unrealistic. Others are only made to impress other people. Some are made half-heartedly with no real intention of following through. Some promises are made with the hope of doing something all by ourselves that we have never in the past been able to pull off successfully - but somehow this time we think we will.

Here are the three steps we have found crucial for being one of the 8% that achieve their desired goals:

First, when making a decision to change, we need to examine our intentions to determine if this is really something we want and are ready to commit to. Sometimes we want the results but are not really ready to put in the hard work to get there. Members of addiction recovery fellowships traditionally refer to this as being "ready to go to any lengths" to get sober, or to achieve other challenging goals.

Once we have established our readiness for the intended change, our next step is to ask for help. Asking for help may be the most important action step in the process, but it is also where we have found the most resistance.

People do not like asking for help in achieving their goals. They seem to crave the triumphant show of willpower - as if on a mission to prove all the naysayers in their life wrong. Unfortunately, we have seen more people prove the naysayers right than wrong. That is because when exerting willpower so many of us have tons of will and not so much power. That is why we need to ask for help.

Do not underestimate the power you can find outside of yourself. Reaching out for help will not only help you, but it will allow you to help those you reach out to. It creates accountability and connection. It is practical and it is spiritual.

The third and last step of the process is to have a definable and measurable plan. A plan is different than a goal. For example, "I will lose weight" is a goal, not a plan. How you intend to accomplish the goal is the plan. In the example we give here, a definable and measurable plan may be to discuss your eating habits with your physician prior to January 7th, switch your daily lunch menu from a complex carbohydrate to to a salad, and to exercise 15 to 30 minutes each day. (This example is not intended as nutrition or medical advice, it is just an example! )

When your plan is measurable, you will know for certain if you are on course or off course. You will have the satisfaction of checking the accomplished parts of your plan off the list in your quest to reach your goal. Most people are quick to share their intended goal with others, but they never share their plan of how they will get there with others. Remember, your goal is what you want to accomplish, your plan is how you are going to get there (and stay there). Besides telling the important people in your life about your goal, tell them also about your specific plan for how you intend to reach that goal.

We wish you the best of luck and hope that this year will bring with it promises we can keep!

About the authors

This article was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their book One in the Spirit: Meditation Course for Recovering Couples. Once again, we wish all our readers a happy and healthy New Year!