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!

14 Comments

  1. Thanks, Anne. I especially like #2 – I think that’s one of my action points for my life these days. Keep writing!
    Jan

    • Thanks, Jan! Happy New Year! Let me know if there’s a good time to come down there to meet with you guys to figure out ways to work together this year!

  2. Anne — This is exactly what I needed today, after waking up too late the past two days to start my new exercise resolution! Thank you for the boost. Tomorrow is a new day!

    Andrea

  3. Happy New Year, Ann! I tried an additional rule: “If you are serious about starting a new habit, don’t wait for January 1; start it now.”

    Instead of ordering a regular entree for our weekly Friday dinner out, I stuck with the salad and soup on Dec. 23–and discovered that that filled me up just fine, and I didn’t leave the restaurant wanting more. That makes it easier for me to believe it won’t be too big a deal to do that from here on out.

    Chantal

    • Hey Chantal! Happy New Year! That’s a fantastic suggestion! I have also tried ordering a to go box at the beginning of the meal and asking them to put half of the meal in it before I ever get it. I’m going to go back to doing that! Thanks for the great tip!

  4. Happy New Year! I like #3 because replacing the habit is much easier than getting rid of it altogether. Maybe this will help keep me conquer my sugar cravings… instead of not eating sugar at all I can eat fruit, yogourt or nuts instead of ignoring the craving altogether. Thanks Anne.

  5. Hi Anne!! Thanks for the tips.. I like #2 because short steps goes a long way and will use #4 when going shopping.. 😀 Hope you enjoyed your holidays!

  6. I think I’m on the right track so far this year! I am training for a 10K in May and feel great! Also, number three is my favorite during LENT. Instead of giving up something, I like to add additional spiritual reflections, readings or journaling. Thank you for the reminder (#7) to forgive and refocus. I hope you have a fantastic 2012!
    Mona

    • Hey Mona! Happy New Year! Sounds like you’re doing great! Keep me posted on the 10k. I tried to do that once…didn’t train and then couldn’t walk for a week. Not pretty ;(

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