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Stop Failing at Resolutions… Follow These 4 Tips For Intentional Detour Success!

It is almost February which means most of us have already failed or forgotten about our New Year’s Resolutions.  We, as “detourists”  like New Year’s because it is a time where people really think about making positive changes.  We call this an Intentional Detour. In our eyes, every New Year’s Resolution is an opportunity to Follow Your Detour! The problem is that research suggests that only 9% of people feel that they successfully complete their resolutions.

Why do many people do not keep their resolutions and is there anything we can do to be more successful?  People fail at their detours/resolutions for many different reasons, but we believe there are simple things you can do to increase your chance of success! So here are 4 tips to help you achieve your New Year’s Resolutions, or more importantly, your Intentional Detours!

Common New Year’s Resolutions / Intentional Detours

First, let’s take a look at what resolutions or intentional detours people are wanting to take this year. According to NBC News, here are the most common New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 based on internet searches:

  • Get Healthy
  • Get Organized
  • Live Life to the Fullest
  • Learn New Hobbies
  • Spend Less/Save More
  • Travel

4 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Resolution/Detour

1. Prepare financially for your detour

All of these common resolutions have an underlying connection. To accomplish any of them, it will likely require you to spend some money that you weren’t spending before. People looking to get in shape often join a gym, which costs money monthly. People wanting to “live their life to the fullest” usually need to spend money to pursue new experiences. People that want to learn a new hobby, say learning to play an instrument, normally have to spend money to get started. Looking to travel more this year? You’re going to need money for that as well.

Clearly, there is more to achieving a resolution or intentional detour than just saying that you are going to do it and giving it a shot. There is a financial component as well and I believe that this plays a large part in why people are so unsuccessful in achieving their resolutions or detours. If you are not prepared financially to make your resolution a reality, you are not giving yourself much of a chance at success.

1A. Budgeting – The Key to Financial Planning

When Lindsay and I started budgeting (and actually sticking to the budget), our lives dramatically improved. There are so many benefits to budgeting, but one main benefit is that you know exactly what you spend your money on each month. With a budget, you tell your money where it goes, down to the last dollar.  Once you do this, you can easily identify where to cut back in order to “afford” your resolution.  It sounds so simple, but most of us don’t consistently do this! We just “want” to go on vacation, but we tell ourselves that we can’t afford to do so. Right! Most of us need to save money in to be able to take a trip or vacation. If you are not actively budgeting, it is really difficult to save money! Think about it, if you are struggling each and every month to get by, what’s probably going to be the first thing to go – your gym membership, your trip to Ireland, your new drum set? Of course! Don’t let yourself not achieve your detour because you did not give yourself a chance financially!

For three years, I kept telling myself that I wanted to try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, the price of the membership was five times the cost of my typical gym membership, which prevented me from going for it. It wasn’t until we started budgeting and tracking our expenses that I realized that by cutting just a few nights of eating out, I actually could afford it. Now, five years later Jiu Jitsu has become a major part of my life. It even inspired Lindsay to start guitar lessons because that was something that she had always wanted to do. It hardly even felt like sacrificing because we were able to achieve things that had been on our list of resolution for years.

Look at this Rock Star at her first recital!
Dan getting his purple belt!

2. Document A Normal Day

I recommend tracking your daily activity prior to launching into your detour or resolution. This is really simple, for a couple of days, maybe a week, track what you do each hour of the day. Do this for as long as it takes until you feel like you have documented your “normal” routine. From there, detail out a “typical day” by averaging out your common activities. Try to group similar activities into one activity to make tracking as simple as possible. The idea is to get a basic understanding of how much time you really spend doing different activities each day.

This is important because so many of us feel like there is simply not enough time in the day to accomplish everything that we want to do. However, if we are truly honest, we waste plenty of time throughout the day. According to a 2016 New York Times article,  “American adults are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day.” 5 hours and 4 minutes – are you kidding me! I am not saying that watching TV is bad, but if we understand how we spend our time, we can identify what to cut out to make time for our resolution.

An intentional detour or a resolution is a commitment to do something differently than you were before. For most people, doing something differently cannot mean doing something more. People will struggle and probably fail when they have to “find” an extra hour to exercise or practice their new hobby. We need to identify an equal trade off. If I know that I normally watch 3 hours of TV per day, I know I can trade 1 hour of TV watching for 1 hour of exercise. You don’t need more time in the day to make your detour/resolution successful, you need to identify what you can cut out in order to give yourself the time needed to achieve it.

Lindsay and I began something we called “power hour”. Every night we gave ourselves the gift of 1 hour, by simply turning off the TV and other electronics and using 1 hour to accomplish something we were struggling to find the time for. This is how we were able to accomplish our dream of starting this blog! Before our “power hours”, we would just complain that we never had time to work on the blog, especially with working all day at our jobs. Turns out we had the time, we were just wasting it.

3. Share Your Detour/Resolution and Find an Accountability Partner

As we mentioned here, sharing your detour/resolution is important for achieving success and following your detour. When you are making a change in your life, having another person or group that you can share your story with and encourage you is very powerful. Sometimes, though, just having someone to share your experience with is not sufficient for realizing lasting change. You need an accountability partner. An accountability partner doesn’t just watch your story from the sideline, they are in the game with you.

Accountability partners can be huge for people trying to achieve their detour/resolution. For example, one study done by the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University found that couples who worked out separately had a 43% dropout rate, while those who went to the gym together had only a 6.3% dropout rate.

Accountability partners are useful for more than just working out. If you want to save more money, find an accountability partner that you can discuss large purchases with before you buy. If you want to travel more, find another person/group and plan a trip together. You will be “forced” to go once the plans have been made. If you want to learn an instrument, hire a coach to teach lessons – even if you do have other ways of learning. You are more likely to practice if you feel accountable to someone else!

One more thing, an accountability partner must be honest and willing to tell you when you are not doing what you need to be doing. They don’t need to be your best friend and make you feel good, they need to be real with you.

4. Remember That You Are Going to Stumble

There are going to be days where you feel like giving up and just don’t think that you can keep on trying. There will be days that you don’t feel good enough, or even that you don’t deserve to achieve your goal. So many people give up simply because they stumble a little bit and feel as though they already failed! A stumble is just a stumble. Keep moving forward! You messed up and ate chocolate cake at the party? So what! Accept it, forgive yourself, and do better the next day. It’s important to have a balance of pushing yourself and also giving yourself some grace. Every step along the way is an important part of the detour. The more stories of ours that you read, the more you’ll see that Lindsay and I make plenty of “wrong decisions” or mistakes, but they never interfere with the greater goal and sometimes even become a crucial part of our success. 

Another important thing to remember is that you might not achieve your goal exactly the way that you thought you would. That is OK! If it’s a true detour, the importance is that you’re growing and following a path to a better you. The true joy of a detour/resolution is not always about reaching your goal or destination anyway. If your New Year’s Resolution is to lose 20 pounds, the true satisfaction will not come from actually hitting that number on the scale. Although it will be gratifying, the true satisfaction will come from the lessons that you will learn along the way, the challenges that you will overcome, the increased confidence that overcoming those challenges will give you, the way that you will feel about yourself.

What do you think? What can people do so that they can better achieve their resolutions? Tell us below and share with a friend that might need some encouragement!

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