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With the dawn of a new year comes the dawn of new resolutions. Resolutions, those wonderful goals and plans people make at the start of each year about all the fantastic things they will change and accomplish. In theory, it’s a great idea. In practice, it’s most often a complete failure.

You know exactly what I mean. It’s best seen at gyms across the country: countless people signing up for a new membership within a few weeks of January 1, all with the intention of getting into shape. Unfortunately, their intentions fall by the wayside after a few weeks and they return to their old ways.

But this year is different. 2013 is your year. Here is how you will follow through this year.

1) Make an action plan, not a resolution. Resolutions are too commonly associated with failure (one study showed that 88% of all resolutions fail). Resolutions are good intentions that are broken after two weeks. Instead, make an action plan that focuses on what you will accomplish, not on good intentions.

2) Get an accountability partner (or even better, partners). This may be the biggest key. We hate disappointing others. Get other people to hold you accountable. Have them check in with you regularly. The thought that you will have to tell your friends and family that you gave up is such an awful one that you will continue.

I know this one has definitely worked for me. When I was in New York this summer, I would get up at 6 every morning to go workout (and as anyone who knows me would tell you, I am not a morning person). The secret? I had a friend who would meet me in the hotel lobby to workout. When that alarm clock rang at 5:50, the last thing I wanted to do was get up and workout. But I also knew that my friend was down there, and the cruelest thing I could do would be to not show up. So I got up. Announce your plans to the world.

3) Blackmail yourself. Joel Runyon has a great post about the the power of losing money and how it will definitely push you through your excuses (he advocates betting your rent).

4) Believe in yourself. This is another key. You have to actually think that you can accomplish the task. I bring this quote up quite a bit, but it’s so true: Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” If you don’t believe that you can truly accomplish something, then you have no shot. Instead, be like The Little Engine That Could and think you can.

5) Challenge yourself (to an extent). Clearly, you want to have awesome goals that will test your limits. But they also have to be relatively realistic. For example, I can have the goal to make the MLB by next year. It’s definitely a goal, but also completely unrealistic. I could play baseball and workout 8 hours a day, everyday for the next year, and I still wouldn’t be good enough. Similarly, an obese 80 year old shouldn’t make the goal to run a sub 4 minute mile in a year. Make challenging goals, but within reason.

6) Kill your excuses. If all else fails, destroy your excuses. My good friends John and Jeremy Ryan from Wedding Crashers put it best (at 51 seconds) :

(warning, some language):

No excuses. Play like a champion. Make 2013 your best year.

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Photo courtesy of 0uT$!d£r and Sports Motivation

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