Hello and Happy New Year! Ah, January, the time of New Year’s resolutions and promises of what the year will bring. It is estimated that over 65% of us make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, only about 8% actually succeed. Why? You can thank your brain.
Our brains love to do the same thing over and over again, and when we try to change those habits, our brains fight back. We can make declarative statements, promise the powers that be, and even make changes for a short time, but if we’re not careful, our brain’s plasticity will take over and revert us right back to old habits before we can say Happy New Year! Habits are not instincts. They are acquired reactions. Returning to our old habits creates relief from the discomfort of doing what we’re used to, even if it’s not healthy.
So what do you do if you’re serious about sticking with your resolutions this year? Because what works for one person might not work for another, here are a few techniques to help you make your resolutions stick:
1. Determine your commitment. On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to accomplishing your resolution? This is a trick question. You are either committed to doing what it takes or not. Decide ahead of time.
2. Follow the 1% rule. What’s the difference between hot water and boiling water? One degree. Whether it’s walking 15 minutes a day, which equates to 91 hours a year, or getting rid of one soda a day, which equates to 26 lbs a year, the little changes are what make the big difference. Don’t set yourself up to fail by trying to change too much at once.
3. Don’t get rid of bad habits. You can’t break a habit; you can only replace it with a different one. Trying to STOP doing something actually makes you do it more. Rather than quitting something, replace it with something positive and productive.
4. Identify your W.I.I.F.M. (what’s in it for me). You can either do this by asking yourself what you have to gain by accomplishing your goal, or sometimes more powerfully, asking yourself the price of not changing.
5. Imagine success. Imagine what success feels like and looks like. Athletes use visualization to train because it has been proven to work. When you focus on something, that focus instantly creates thought patterns and ideas you wouldn’t have had otherwise. This focus gets your highest level of unconscious support.
6. Take action. Just like you can’t get thinner by watching others exercise, you can’t accomplish your goals just by dreaming about it. Take action, even if you don’t feel like it.
7. Don’t derail. Remember, just because you get off track, doesn’t mean you have to completely derail. Forgive yourself and move on.
Here’s to your success in 2012! Wishing you peace, happiness, and lots of belly laughs!