The New Year brings hope of beginnings and commitments. And yet many resolutions fall flat after a month or two. It’s no surprise why this happens. Many make lists of all the behaviors they intend to change and then try and make it happen all at once. Sadly this approach often ends in failure. It’s hard enough to change one behavior, let alone several at the same time.

So here’s a better approach. Below is a monthly list of traits you can always improve upon, along with practiced methods for making them stick. I’ve linked some articles to help inspire you for each one. Just focus on one behavioral change each 30 days and then add the next.  You may not succeed in absorbing them all, but you’re bound to do better than the usual New Year’s binge. Get a small notebook to help you track your progress and inspire you for the next New Years.

January - Patience

Managing your impatience is a perfect way to start the year. Take a week and keep tally every time you get upset, angry, anxious, frustrated, or disgusted with the world not moving at your pace. Determine how many times you overreacted. Then go back for the rest of January and work to reduce the number week by week.

February - Charm

In honor of Valentine’s Day, increase your charm factor. Be aware of your interactions with others. Sign up for a networking event each week. Become a master of learning about others. Practice two new and interesting stories to share with people. You will connect better if they find you fascinating…or at least friendly. 

March - Focus

This is when the year’s distractions begin to kick in. The weather breaks and spring beckons. All the opportunities from the New Year start to take shape.  Pick an opportunity each week and set aside one hyperfocused hour each day to work on it. Eliminate all other distractions.

April - Confidence

You’ve made it through the first quarter. Be proud of what you have accomplished.  Now it’s time to boost your confidence. At the end of each week this month, write down something you did exceptionally well. Share with a good friend the details of what you did right and how amazing it felt to be in control. Remember this feeling in the coming months.

May - Graciousness

Are you truly showing gratitude for those around you? Write down the acts and attitudes of others that you appreciate most when you are on the receiving end. Each week during this month, pick someone and send them flowers or a thank you bottle to publicly demonstrate your appreciation.

June - Reflection

Now that you are reaching the halfway point, it’s time to look back at your progress and assess your improvement. This month take 20 minutes at the start or end of each day and meditate or use prayer to be introspective. Take an honest look at yourself and find strength and peace.

July - Independence

People who control their own destiny are generally the greatest contributors to society. Are you truly able to make your own choices? Are you free to make change as needed? Every day identify and note restrictions that are keeping you from independence and success. Remove one of these oppressors each week.

August - Creativity

Many feel their creativity is stifled or nonexistent. At the beginning of each week this month begin a creative endeavor or identify a tough problem and apply creative solutions to solve it. Keep track of your most creative ideas and reward yourself when you come up with something really different.

September - Education

Everyone wants to be a little smarter. Start by reading more. Go to a bookstore and pick out 4 books to read by end of year. You can also choose one vital new skill you need to learn and start the process. Get good enough to teach it to a colleague.

October - Values

Strong leaders have powerful beliefs, and they are good at getting others to believe it as well. Do you know what you believe? Spend each week determining one of your core values. Get practiced at clearly articulating the stories and purpose behind them.

November - Collaboration

Success often depends on working well with others to get things done. Each week reach out and find at least one new person to invite into collaboration. Choose a specific project and measure the results. Note how their contribution helped you achieve more, better, and faster.

December - Joy

If you executed this entire list, you have probably grown in several ways. Take time to celebrate and reward yourself. Find a way to spoil yourself every week until 2015. Share the new joyful you with friends colleagues and family.

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