Dear Bonnie,

For the past two years, I’ve made the same New Year’s resolution. My resolution is to spend more time on the practice range, going at least two times a week, but by March the past two years, I have broken my resolution several times, and by the summer I quit going at all! This year I am again making the same resolution, thinking the third time will be the charm. Do you have any advice to help me stick to my resolution?

My advice for sticking to the resolution is to first ask yourself why you want to make this resolution in the first place and is your reason important and compelling enough for you to invest the time and energy. If it’s a resolution created based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change, or based on a lackluster “should do,” your resolve may be fleeting. You need to firmly believe, and feel, from the start that you will keep this resolution. You have to have your own back for achieving it.

It’s interesting that you used “third time’s the charm” in your question. Did you know one of the  definitions of the word charm is, “a practice believed to have magic power.”

Ask yourself this question: “If I haven’t kept the same resolution for the past two years, what has changed within me now that makes me believe I will keep the resolution this year?” If you haven’t mentally prepared yourself for this resolution, do you think there is something that will be magically different about you this year in contrast to who you were for the last two years that will empower you to keep your resolution this time around?

Your resolution involves developing new habits, which takes mental preparation. You have to renovate your mental infrastructure with new thoughts to open your mind to a new way of being. You will need to work on managing your mind for the change before you make a resolution for which you are not ready. You do not want to set yourself up to fail by relying on your old brainwork inhabited by old habits.

I also offer that you don’t try to do too much at once. Start implementing what you know you can, and will, easily do. New habits are created by starting with small and easily accomplished steps. It’s better to take very small steps that you can do consistently, than to end up taking no steps at all in the long run.

For instance, instead of starting with twice a week at the practice range, maybe you go once a week or every other week or once a month until that routine becomes a habit. Pick a goal you can easily achieve. It’s part of leading your brain to change. Then you can add more time to it, when you are ready. Start with what you absolutely know you will do, so you don’t lose trust in yourself, and beat yourself up for not doing it. Small consistent steps are better than no steps.

You may think it’s too little, but your brain won’t. This is an important and powerful part of restructuring your brain for bigger accomplishments.

The lack of mental preparation, or thought work, and setting too big a resolution at first, are reasons most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned before the end of February. When the clock strikes 12:00 AM on January 1st, your thinking and motivation do not magically change for the long term. You actually have to become a different person with different thoughts before the change will stick. Changing from the type of person who doesn’t regularly go to the practice range to the type of person who does, takes mental management. New beliefs change our actions and our results.  New beliefs are formed by changing our thoughts.

Practicing mental management skills is as important to your golf game as is practicing mechanical skills on the driving range. Instead of counting on magical thinking, start practicing thoughts and taking smaller steps that will bring you to the results you want in the long term and on the long fairways.