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Already Failed Your New Year's Resolutions? Here's Where You Went Wrong

05/02/2014 12:27 GMT | Updated 06/04/2014 10:59 BST
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While people make resolutions with the desire to change something the word actually comes from the Latin resolvere meaning to 'loosen, release'.

Often we fail at something, like a New Year's resolution, because really we are holding on to something - a behaviour, a mind set, an approach that no longer works for you. Here's a new approach to change to make sure you achieve your goals this year.

The Change Equation

To make a lasting change in your life you need to understand the change equation. Change is a function of:

Dissatisfaction with the present x A vision of the future x Some first practical steps = Change

Using this equation let's revisit your New Year's resolution. One or all of these elements may be missing. Let's look at the example of saving more money.

Dissatisfaction with the present

Is saving money something you really want to do or something you think you should do, perhaps because you were constantly told to do this by family members. Let's face it - spending money is fun! But to make a lasting change your present situation must feel so 'painful' that you feel compelled to move away from a state of pain and towards a state of pleasure.

If you see saving money as missing out on fun nights out with your friends and never being able to buy a new gadget ever again then you will remain in the 'pleasure' state of spending money and avoid the 'pain' state of saving.

Reframe your current financial situation in a state of pain. What is failing to save money preventing you from doing? Buy a house? Buying a car? Booking a trip?

Creating a vision of the future

Now, how can you make saving pleasurable? Could you start a Pinterest board of how you're going to decorate your new home? Are there quick wins you can get along the way like rewarding yourself with a new car test drive or the (small) purchase of a travel guide to your dream destination?

Make sure your vision is tangible. Use the SMARTER goals framework to do this; ensure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-defined, Energising, Rewarding e.g.I am going to save £2200 by the end of 2014, which is £200 per month.

Some first practical steps

As soon as you've made a resolution it's important you know the next, practical, steps you need to take to achieve it. In the example of saving money this might be immediately creating a spreadsheet or downloading an app to track your spending against saving goals.

You also need to think about what is the first barrier you're going to encounter. Could a big night out with friends tempt you to overspend? Start taking cash out before you even arrive at the bar, tell yourself you're only going to spend what's in your wallet and when you run out it's time to go home - or hit the water.