It’s January 31, 2011: Do You Know Where Your New Year’s Resolutions Are?

You took the time to think about the areas in your life where you’d like to make changes and you carefully crafted your 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe you wrote them down, typed them up, put them on your wall, or shared them with your friends and family. Now, here it is a few weeks into the New Year. How are you doing on those resolutions? If you’ve already abandoned one or more of your goals, don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. Research shows that nearly 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. And by the end of week one, 25% have already jumped ship. After one month, 36% have given up, and after six months, more than half throw in the towel.

Even though many people who make New Year’s resolutions do break them, research also shows that making resolutions is useful. In fact, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. Still, the question begs to be asked: Why do humans pick a single point in time each year to try to change certain things in their life — behaviors, habits, attitudes — make resolutions about them, and then proceed to fail at them within a month’s time?

While we may never know the answer to that question, we do know a few tricks to keep you committed to your resolutions so you actually attain them.

  • Believe in yourself. You’ll do better on your New Year’s goals if you believe that self-control is an unlimited resource we all have access to and can leverage with our resolutions. The more you believe in your own capabilities, the more likely you will succeed.
  • Learn the proper skills. Having the actual skills to make the changes you’re proposing for your life will make goal attainment easier. For instance, it’s great to say that you want to quit smoking. But do you really have any idea how to do so? Researching the skills you need and developing them before embarking on your goal will make all the difference.
  • Keep track of your progress. You probably won’t completely fulfill your resolutions after only one week or even one month. However, you likely have made some small progress during that time. Rather than focusing only on whether you attained your goals, look at the small successes you are attaining along the way…and celebrate them. Doing so will keep you motivated to stay true to your resolutions.

So, what are some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions that pertain to public speaking? According to my clients:

  • Planning ahead of time
  • Preparing my slides a few days in advance
  • Beginning to prepare as soon as I know the date of my presentation
  • Working with a speech coach
  • Learning more about giving web presentations
  • Rehearsing in front of my team, colleagues, friends
  • Practicing one skill every week—eye contact, speaking slowly, enunciation, etc.

No matter what your New Year’s resolutions were, don’t give up! We’re in the infancy of 2011. If you are going to abandon your resolutions, wait at least until adolescence!