New Year’s is the only holiday that celebrates the passage of time. Perhaps that’s why, as the final seconds of this year tick away, we become introspective.

Inevitably, that introspection turns to thoughts of self-improvement and the annual ritual of making New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s look at some tools to help make 2006 your most exciting year ever!

A Time for Renewal

New Year’s Resolutions offer the first of many important tools for remaking ourselves. People the world over make New Year’s Resolutions. Often, what we vow to improve is some habit related to health, weight, exercise, occupation or income.

The most important investments require time. Setting and achieving a resolution requires focus, effort and commitment. Changing old habits and developing new ones won’t happen overnight.

The following four guidelines will help you achieve all of your New Year’s resolutions:

1. Focus on One Resolution at a Time

Divide and conquer. Identify the individual activities it will take to achieve your desired results. Break larger tasks into smaller ones. Each of these comprises one element of your personal resolution roadmap, a path to achieve your goal.

2. Create Accountability

Designate a friend, mentor or companion for sharing successes, monitoring progress and offering support.

Research indicates that those who are successful at making changes in their lives often employ excellent support systems. The benefit of involving others in your goals and plans is instant access to experience, knowledge and wisdom. It also raises the bar of accountability.

The common path is to make a resolution and then tell no one about it. That way, if we fail, no one will know we have failed; no one will view us as a failure. But this is self-defeating: increasing your accountability to the behavior by communicating your resolution actually increases your odds of success!

Share your objectives and goals with those around you so that you can enlist their support. Knowing that you are accountable to someone other than yourself will help to keep you on track.

3. Persist Until Completion

A resolution achieved is a stunning example of consistency and hard work. If you fall behind schedule or are sidetracked for any reason, refocus! Just don’t give up! Don’t surrender to temptation, difficulty or temporary failure. Persist until you achieve the goal.

4. Cultivate Personal Integrity

Integrity gives you the oxygen needed to cross the finish line of accomplishment. Integrity here simply means doing what you say you’ll do. Your commitment determines your level of success. This commitment boils down to two essential tactics: daily action and review.

The Nuts and Bolts

The nuts and bolts of achieving any resolution are invariably the same; neither the size of the resolution nor the person achieving it changes the basic recipe. Here are the ingredients of a successful New Year’s resolution:

1. Make It Clear

For a dream to become a goal, it must be specific. “Being thin” is an image; “losing 10 pounds by March 1” is a resolution. Be clear on what you want to achieve.

Make a resolution that you have a bona fide intention of keeping. Don’t make the resolution unless it is a genuine, serious, no-kidding-around-I-really-mean-it New Year’s resolution!

2. Put It in Writing

Describe precisely what you want, how you will earn it, when you will have it, and the benefits you’ll receive from achieving your resolution.

Write the details, but don’t make it complex. When you put it in writing, you increase your chances of moving to the next step and increasing your level of commitment.

Your mind, while blessed with permanent memory, is cursed with lousy recall! Writing out your resolution goes a long way towards achieving it.

3. Create Commitment

Without commitment, you can say, “Farewell, dreams!… Adios, potential!… Toodeloo, success. And hello mediocrity!” And your resolution will go find a more deserving soul—someone with courage, character, conviction and commitment.

Commitment is habitual and essential. It moves you ever closer to your resolution and ultimate success. Commitment is the heartbeat of your goal.

Commitment means you own it. You are responsible for taking the resolution that’s on paper and turning it into the desired outcome. Owning it means taking responsibility for changes, risks, failures and successes!

Creating Your Resolution List

Write down a list of ten possible New Year’s resolutions. Do this now: find something to write on, and get them all out of your head and down on paper. Don’t worry, you’re not committing to these just yet! (This is like a prospect list: you’re not necessarily going to call each person, just write down those names!)

Now, look at your list. Does one resolution stand out? Is there one that you’re ready and raring to go after? Focus on this one. You can replicate the process with others later. Write down, separate from the list, “My #1 New Year’s Resolution is: _______,” and describe it clearly and simply.

Congratulations on your decision! This focus is critical to moving forward.

I encourage you to pursue your resolutions with open arms, and to believe deeply in your ability to enjoy the rewards of resolutions and dreams achieved.

I wish for you a New Year of health, wealth and happiness. A year in which you give yourself many gifts, including the gifts of love, patience and faith!

GARY RYAN BLAIR is a speaker, consultant, strategic planner
and coach to leading companies around the globe,
and a faculty member of Networking University.