A friend asked if I still make New Year’s resolutions. He raised his eyebrows when I told him I still do. In fact, I write them down and read them from time to time to constantly remind myself of what I committed to do, achieve or change for the new year.
It makes a big difference if we write them down, because it’s like telling our subconscious mind—the true seat of our intelligence, which determines the way we feel, believe and behave—that we’re really serious about changing ourselves for the better or achieving new milestones in our lives.
Contract with yourself
It’s like drafting a contract with ourselves. If we just think of our goals for the new year, it’s just wishful thinking. And our subconscious mind, which ultimately determines outcomes of the things we’re aspiring to achieve, will relegate our resolutions to the back burner.
I used to think writing down and rereading New Year’s resolutions won’t make any difference. But over the decades that I’ve been doing it, I’m fully convinced it’s a valid strategy to increase our chances of success.
The unfortunate thing is that although everyone must have heard or read about this goal-setting strategy, only one in 10 people who set down goals does it. It doesn’t really require much effort to write down one’s goals or resolutions, so failing to do it betrays one’s lack of earnestness in achieving them.
Occasionally, I get invitations to speak on effective goal-setting, which includes setting New Year’s resolutions. I coined the acronym “ADB VEST” to improve one’s batting average in achieving them.
“A” stands for Aim—what one’s goals or resolutions are. And as we said, they must be written down. Making them as detailed as possible clarifies for our subconscious mind exactly what we want to achieve.
Stating it positively, rather than emphasizing the negative behavior or habit we want to change, also helps.
So, instead of saying “I will not eat fatty foods anymore,” it’s better to resolve: “I will adopt a healthy diet, eating more fruits and vegetables.” Instead of aiming to stop being a couch potato, it’s better to resolve to exercise regularly at least four times a week.
“D” is for the Desire to achieve one’s resolutions. The more burning the desire is, the higher the chances one would achieve them.
Several years ago, an obese female colleague of ours, who was then already pushing 40 and still unmarried, resolved to lose the unsightly flab she had around her waist. She resolved with a do-or-die attitude to exercise daily, and be more conscious of the foods she ate.
The desire to achieve her goal was so strong, it was like crossing the Rubicon. There was no turning back. Within a year, with an equally motivated fitness coach, she achieved her goal and amazingly transformed her body.
“B” is for Believe. Our belief system fuels the engine that can help us achieve our goals. The Bible is replete with passages attesting to the power of one’s belief or faith.
As you believe, so it shall be, Jesus told a sick person who jostled through the crowd just to be able to touch the robe of Jesus. He believed that by just touching Jesus’ robe, he would be healed. And his strong belief indeed healed him.
Miraculous healing still happens in this day and age. It’s humbling for doctors to see patients we’ve already pronounced as medically hopeless or a terminal case, only to see them bounce back and recover. It defies science, what the power of prayer and belief can do.
If one combines one’s burning desire and unwavering belief, the energy it draws is so strong that there’s no reason one could fail.