As 2020 draws to a close and we look forward to 2021, I thought it was a good time to offer a refresher on how to maintain those New Year’s resolutions.
Here are several ideas that may help you to maintain your resolutions throughout the entire year.
1) Divide a General Resolution into Specific Steps.
Whatever your resolution may be, you can divide it into specific steps. It’s much easier to accomplish small steps that you can see yourself doing for the rest of the year (or the rest of your life) than it is to fulfill a giant goal that would be huge. Start with something that is easy and make sure you can accomplish it.
Thus, a resolution to make 50% this year in your account could be broken into a number of steps such as (a) look at ideas that might help improve your trading; (b) test each idea and see how much improvement you will get from each one; (c) implement the best idea following the ten tasks of trading. In fact, your resolution might simply be to follow the ten tasks of trading each day and notice what that means for you.
2) Make Promises to Yourself and Include the Reason for the Promise in the Resolution.
Suppose your promise to yourself is to do a daily mental rehearsal. The way you might phrase that is to promise yourself to do a daily mental rehearsal in order to plan ways to increase your discipline. The second statement is much easier for you to follow through with on a regular basis. Also, make sure that the promise you set is something you want to do and not something someone else wants you to do. If I tell you that you must do a daily mental rehearsal, you are not likely to do it. On the other hand, if you decide how important this kind of rehearsal will be for your well-being and your trading, you are much more likely to do it.
3) Determine Your Triggers.
If you are setting a resolution, it is probably because you want to do something that you have not been able to do. There is probably a reason for your inability to do it—certain triggers that set you off. What are those triggers? Are there environmental triggers, such as the presence of certain people or certain conditions? Are there certain internal feelings that set you off? What are those feelings and when do they occur?
Once you determine what your triggers are, you are much more prepared for them. I strongly recommend doing extensive mental rehearsal around the issue of dealing with those triggers. Use the mental state exercises in Book Four of the Peak Performance home study course (LINK) and rehearse dealing with those triggers so that you have more discipline in situations in which you will need it. Awareness is a big part of keeping your resolutions.
4) Look at the Positive Side of Your New Resolution.
When we get into the act of keeping our resolutions, we sometimes feel as if we are denying ourselves. Instead, look at the positive side of what we are accomplishing. Turn on something positive. For example, if you are trying to stop smoking, whenever you get the urge to smoke, exercise or take a walk. Concentrate on the joy of the new behavior instead of the negative that you are trying to overcome. You’ll find that moving forward is much easier.
5) Keep a Diary of Whatever It is You Are Working On.
A lot of what I’ve suggested for you involves mental awareness. Most people are unaware of the big picture that’s involved in accomplishing a goal. However, when you keep a diary that lists your accomplishments and your thoughts, you’ll find it much easier to understand what is going on inside of you.
Listing your accomplishments is also a form of reward. When you start focusing on your accomplishments (especially if you’ve followed step one and have set small steps toward your total goal) you’ll feel great about what you achieved and where you are going.
6) Make It Okay to Give in Occasionally.
If you are attempting to make a major change, you may have occasional setbacks. If you view that setback as failure, then the resolution is over. You can give yourself a bad name. On the other hand, if you make it okay to have occasional setbacks, then you can keep going. It’s just a setback.
Realize that your setback is an opportunity to learn something about yourself. What happened? What were your thoughts? Write down all of that information in your diary and determine what you can learn from that. You might discover a new trigger and then you can plan for how to get around those triggers. In any case, forgive yourself for the setback and then move on.
Quite often setbacks are due to inadequate preparation. Perhaps you didn’t do enough research with respect to your trading. Perhaps more mental rehearsal was needed. Perhaps you discovered something about your thought process that you didn’t expect, but can now use in your preparation. What additional preparation can you do to make sure that you move ahead toward generally keeping your resolution?
7) Reward Yourself Throughout the Process.
You need to acknowledge accomplishments early on in the process. The first few days will probably be the hardest. Consequently, when you get through those days and accomplish your goals, find a reward. Make the process fun through a system of rewards.