Find speakers by:
Request more info

7 Habit-Creating Tips To Make Your New Year’s Resolution Successful

7 Habit-Creating Tips To Make Your New Year’s Resolution Successful

While serving as the Director of Mental Training for the St Louis Cardinals, Dr. Jason Selk helped the team win their first World Series in over 20 years, and in 2011 he assisted the Cardinals in the historic feat of winning their second World Championship in a six year period. Considered to be one of the world’s premier performance coaches, Dr. Selk helps well-known professional and Olympic athletes, as well as Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 executives and organizations, develop the mental toughness necessary for high-level success. In this recent column for Forbes, Dr. Selk looks at how to make your new year’s resolutions stick:

It’s 2016, and you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution. Have you considered how you’re going to accomplish it?

There’s a reason only 8% of people who make resolutions are successful and that 24% of people who make resolutions year after year never reach their goals. While it may be true that people who make resolutions are 10 times more inclined to achieve their goals than people who don’t bother to make resolutions, that’s hardly a guarantee.

What’s needed is a systematic approach. It begins with your decision to make a change as expressed in your New Years Resolution. But for that decision to become a reality requires that you develop a series of habits, activities that become second nature that will keep you moving in the right direction.

At points along the way, you’re likely to encounter obstacles that will challenge your determination to fulfill your resolution. You’ll have to decide if you’re going to do what most people do and punk out, or bear down and win your “fight-thru.”Fight-thru is when your initial confidence—or arrogance—confronts the reality that winning is going to be harder than you thought, and you resolve to go the rounds to win. It will take winning two or three fight-thru battles with yourself before a habit becomes second nature. These techniques will help you train:


Ritualize a new habit through scheduling. If the habit is taking a thirty-minute run every day, block it out on the calendar for the same time and make it nonnegotiable. This takes most of the thinking out of the process.


When it gets to be day three and you’re lying in bed debating whether to go out running in the cold and snow, recognize what’s going on. Learn to say to yourself, “I’ve entered a fight-thru.” Recognizing this is like taking the blindfold off before the fight begins. Now you know what you’re fighting. Each fight-thru win makes winning the next one easier. Of course, the reverse is also true. Each fight you lose makes it easier to quit the next time.

Ask Two Questions

Coach yourself through a fight-thru by asking these two questions: 1) How will I feel if I win the fight-thru? and 2) How will I feel if I lose it? This brings emotion into the process, and emotion promotes action. If you’ve committed to quitting smoking, and you hit a fight-thru, don’t reach for a cigarette, ask yourself the two questions. If you can imagine that you are no longer a smoker, you’re going to feel good about yourself and probably a lot healthier. If you’re still smoking, you’ll probably feel like a failure, or at least experience negative emotions that come with not meeting your goal. In either case, negative or positive emotions are powerful motivators that will help you win the fight.

See Yourself in the Future

Take thirty seconds and, in great detail, think about where your life will be in five years if you consistently win your fight-thrus. Be honest and let yourself feel the benefits of constantly winning the fight. Then, go through the same process and suffer the feelings of defeat after losing the fight-thrus. How much you’ve embraced these techniques will determine the outcome.

Let’s assume you’ve won your fight-thrus, new habits have become a regular part of your routine, and they no longer feel like things you have to intentionally remember or push yourself to do. It’s normal to feel proud, but keep your guard up. Common traps can send you back to the fight-thru stage. For example:

Beware of Discouragement

When you work hard and it doesn’t immediately reinforce the habit you’re trying to create, it’s easy to slip into a negative mindset where you tell yourself the process is pointless, that you’re never going to succeed. Discouragement can kill your resolve to keep trying. But if you do keep trying, you will win.

Protect your Routine

Just before summer, millions of people start new diets and exercise routines, which for many people work. Then November rolls around, and if you’re one of them, you get sidetracked by Thanksgiving and, a few weeks later, sabotaged by too much Christmas cheer. Now it’s January and you’re back where you started in June. Any break in your routine will disrupt the positive habits you’ve succeeded in building.

Stay Vigilant against the Seduction of Success

You’ve won the fight-thrus, you’ve changed your pattern, and now you feel unbeatable. It’s human nature to think you’ve got this thing licked and don’t have to work as hard. When you test this new belief, the results may prove you right. Don’t get seduced by your success. It’s only a matter of time before you begin to lose ground.

Recognizing seduction is an important part of avoiding it. At this point, anytime you catch yourself making excuses for not doing your activities, you can be sure you’re entering the seduction zone and could wind up back where you started. To counter this, push yourself to do a little more, for a little while longer: ten more sit-ups, another lap, five more phone calls. This will mentally reinforce your ability to win fight-thrus. Just as physical training makes your body strong, perseverance and willingness to “fight-thru” obstacles will make you mentally strong.

When you stick with this program, winning becomes a habit.

Jason Selk/Forbes/January 2016