First of all, happy new year. I don’t know about you, but I always feel optimistic around this time. We can say goodbye to last year and have a chance to turn over a new leaf; reinvent ourselves and enter the new year as a new and improved version of our old selves!
So, with another year in the bag, now is the time where everyone is going to be making resolutions and – quite frankly – most of us will likely not stick to it for more than a week or so (unless you’re reading this!). In fact, according to health.usnews.com, 80% of new year resolutions fail by February.
Now, why is that?
I’m sure you’ve had that feeling to start the year where you’re super motivated and convinced that “this is the year” where you’ll get things done and your whole life will change, and, by the time January is done, you’re back to the same old habits.
Just because this happens to most people, doesn’t mean it has to happen to you too! There are certain steps that you can take to ensure that your resolution not only sticks, but becomes a habit, freeing up energy to make a new one and once you become a pro at this, you’ll be cracking out new resolutions every month, instead of waiting till December every year.
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1. Be Specific
The first mistake that people make when coming up with a new year resolution is being too general. They’ll say something like “I’m going to become more healthy this year”.
How exactly are you going to accomplish this?
What’s your plan of action?
Having a general statement like this doesn’t give you any guidelines or rules to live by or goals to work towards.
So, what you need to do is come up with a specific plan of action:
- Have an end goal, or a long term goal to work towards. For example, “I will lose ‘x’ amount of weight by December 31st.”
- Then have short term, or daily goals that help you inch closer to your end goal. For example, “I will go for a run every morning.”
A good motto to live by:
Just try and get 1% better everyday at whatever you’re trying to do.
See how breaking it down and being more specific actually helps you work out a plan. You now have an end goal, and the means to get there.
Another tendency you’ll have – especially if you’re feeling super motivated to start the year – is to take on several resolutions. That’s just setting yourself up for failure. You only have a certain amount of willpower each day; it needs to be recharged and replenished. You will simply drain all of your willpower if you’re trying to stick to eight different resolutions, instead of just focusing on one.
Just write down a list of your resolutions/goals and prioritise them. Decide which ones are most important to you, pick one and then focus on that. Like I said before, once this becomes a habit, you will have freed up some more energy/willpower to work on another one.
3. Write it Down
Writing your resolution down will serve as a constant reminder for you to keep working at it. Keep it in a place where you can see it everyday – preferably when you wake up – so that you can start each day with your resolution in mind.
I like to put my goals on post it notes and stick them to the wall in my bedroom.
4. Don’t Tell People
Have you ever noticed that when you tell people your new year resolution – or other goals and aspirations – it feels pretty good?
This is because your brain tricks you into feeling a false sense of achievement. It visualises a scenario where you’ve already accomplished this goal. All of this makes you less motivated and less likely to actually work on it in real life.
Just keep your goals to yourself and write them down.
5. Take Advantage of the New Year Chaos
At the start of the year, everyone is all pumped for the new year sticking to their resolution. No one wants to be the first one to fold and give up on their resolution, and don’t let it be you either! Use this as extra motivation for the first month or so.
6. Find a Buddy
Now, by this I don’t mean just go out and make a new friend (unless that’s your resolution of course!).
No, I mean find someone who can hold you accountable and be there for support and to help you complete your goal. Ideally they’ve got a goal as well so you can help each other.
7. Do it Everyday
Studies have shown that for something to become a habit, it largely depends on what habit you’re trying to form. Simple tasks – like drinking water with breakfast – only take around three weeks before they become a habit, whereas more complex behaviours can take a few months.
No matter what your resolution is, do it everyday for the first month. This is the hardest part of the process and, after this time, it will only get easier as you build on this habit and make it stronger.
Consistency is key when it comes to sticking to a new year resolution and forming a habit. Whatever yours is, try and do it at the same time everyday. Keep everything as consistent as possible and that will make it easier to form into a habitual routine.
For example, whenever it gets to 06:00, you know that’s time to go for a run.
9. Educate Yourself on the Effects
Read up on the benefits you’ll experience as a result of sticking to this resolution. This will give you more incentive, whenever you’re working on achieving your end goal.
On the flip side, also learn about the negative aspects you’ll experience if you give up.
When you visualise an ideal scenario in the future where you’re experiencing all the benefits, this will help keep you going even on the days when you’re lacking the motivation.
10. Remove ALL Temptation
One of the most common causes of failure when it comes to new year resolutions is being surrounded by too much temptation. If you’re trying to watch less TV, sign out of your Netflix account. If you’re trying to eat better, remove all junk food from your house. You could even go as far as to delete a social media account!
11. The “but” Technique
The “but” technique is simply changing the way you talk to yourself and the way you think when it comes to your goals and resolutions. Instead of thinking, “I’m so unhealthy.” think, “I’m so unhealthy, but, if I start going to the gym, I’ll start to become healthier.”
When you have an “I can do this” mindset, you’ll have increased willpower when it comes to working towards your goal.
12. Replace Bad Habits
If you’re trying to eliminate a bad habit from your life, try and replace it with a good habit. Fill that time with something else so you’re less likely to think about the bad habit you’re trying to give up.
For example, replace your Netflix time with reading. If you get really into a book, chances are you won’t be thinking about the TV shows you used to watch.
13. Don’t Expect Perfection
If one of your attempts at sticking to your new year resolution fails, don’t let that be the end of the world. If you have that mindset, you’re more likely to give up at future attempts because you think it’s just not worth it.
Allow yourself to be imperfect.
Everyone’s allowed to fail every once in a while. You know the great thing about failing? You can learn from it. Ask yourself why you failed and what you can do next time to avoid the same result.
Have that frame of mind and then nothing will be able to stop you!
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