It happens every year – we set new year goals, get excited about them and then… do nothing. It’s estimated that only around 10% of people stick to their resolutions; from losing weight to getting organised, spending less/saving more, enjoying life to the fullest and spending more time with the kids. Whatever it is, this kind of perpetual let down isn’t good for the soul.
Interestingly, this crazy tradition of new year resolutions dates back as far as Ancient Rome!
So why do we keep disappointing ourselves and how do we break the habit?
Well, we usually base our resolutions around things we rarely or almost never do. We find the actual thought of our resolution provides instant gratification, but when it comes to actually performing a task – stopping smoking, getting fit, flossing our teeth – it’s actually far from gratifying.
Moreover it takes time to see results and the novelty quickly wears off, so our brains are setting us up to fail right from the offset.
What do we do?
- Start small. Most resolutions are grand… like losing 20kg in a month. It’s because people want to start with a clean slate and as soon as you fail, you’ll be disappointed and give up. “Instead of attempting sweeping reforms, commit to modest, measurable improvements that might be achieved and maintained over time,” says Tim Pychyl, a psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa. By the next New Year, you’ll be able to feel good about what you’ve achieved.
- Resolution makers often write down their goals and get excited about them for two weeks. “Then the goal goes into a drawer and they go back to flowing through life, reacting to whatever happens to show up,”says May McCarthy, author of The Path to Wealth. Instead, successful people use the power of repetition to create new habits. “People struggle with goals because they don’t understand how the brain works. You have old behaviors you’ve come to this stage in life with; they are deep-rooted neuropathways that can be very strong, like mind grooves. If your new goal is bigger or different than those you’ve made before, you have to create new beliefs and new neuropathways to get there.” Start out every morning reviewing your goal, reading it out loud with emotion, and anchoring it within you, McCarthy suggests. “When you go out and start your workday, your goals are at the forefront,” she says. “You are essentially training your brain for success.”
- Have a good reason, says Strength Coach, Kev Toonen. The consequence of failing needs to in itself be motivating in order to get us out of bed and break bad habits. If you are setting a fitness goal, best way to ensure success is to sign up to something big (and possibly scary) like a run or trek that you know you have to train for. Training for aesthetics only is a sure fire route to failure. This of course translates to all life goals and ambitions. Set yourself targets to achieve and measure your progress along the way.
- Have a plan. This one seems like a no brainer, but if you’re going to set a big task, you need to figure out how you’re gonna do it. How can you alter your lifestyle or habits a little each day/week to ensure you make good progress over time?
Here’s to a productive, successful and beautiful 2017!
Let us know what your resolutions are and how you get on! We’d love to hear from you.