It’s a brand new year, a time for new starts, new perspectives and New Year’s resolutions. These annual intentions - whose origins can be traced back over 4000 years - can be a great opportunity for us to reflect on our lives. We can examine what is and isn’t working and take the necessary steps to introduce positive change. Making New Years resolutions can be the breakthrough that we need to kickstart improvements in our lives. If only we can stick to them…
Studies have shown that sticking to our intentions is a tricky business. Less than 10 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. In fact many of us can’t even commit to our resolutions beyond the second Friday in January which is known as Quitter’s Day.
So if you struggle with committing to your New Year’s resolution you’re in good company. Fortunately there are actions that you can take to maximise your chances of success. Here are eight to help keep you on your path.
1. The Power Of One
It’s not a competition, your New Year’s resolution is your personal goal so don’t pile on the pressure by trying to juggle five things that you want to change. Intensify your focus and maximise your chances of success by choosing just one.
2. Forty Days
It takes time to develop new habits. Research suggests that it can take between 18 to 254 days. Give yourself the best possible chance of accomplishing your resolution by practising your new behaviour every single day for 40 days.
3. Step By Step
If you’d never exercised before but your goal was to run a 26 mile marathon, you’d likely start with small steps. These might include a weekly jog around the park or swimming to build up your endurance. It might even include taking part in a small fun run. You can use this same approach with your New Year’s resolution by breaking your goals into bite sized, easy to swallow pieces. Instead of giving up smoking or alcohol cold turkey, you can gradually reduce your intake to an pre-assigned amount each week. This gives you the chance to avoid a messy meltdown and instead experience the small wins that will help to strengthen your resolve.
If you’re giving something up for the New Year such as drinking mocha lattes, science has proven that you’re more likely to succeed if you replace your old habit with a new (healthier) one. This could mean having a peppermint tea every time you have a craving for a caffeine fix. Go as far as carrying your own tea bags around with you so that if herbal tea isn’t available you always have your own supply and can avoid being put in the way of temptation.
5. Financial Motivation
If you were trying to give up eating red meat, think how much more successful you could be if you had to donate a significant amount of money to a political party or organisation that you were opposed to every time you ate a cheeky steak? If loss aversion appeals to you, there are numerous apps that will act as referee and cheerleader helping to keep you motivated. They’ll also transfer your money to your hated organisation anytime your willpower wavers.
6. You’ve Got A Friend
Having support matters. It can be in the form of a friend who goes running with you or an accountability partner who you can check in with weekly to discuss your progress. Having someone who you’re answerable to, can make a big difference in achieving or not achieving your goal. If your friends aren’t able to commit to regular support and motivation, you can always join an online group of people who are on a similar journey to you.
7. Get Rid Of Temptation
If you want to give up smoking, sugar or simply eat more healthily you’ll have a better chance if you can steer clear of temptation. Make your home a cigarette, alcohol or sugar free zone. If your partner is a smoker or a chocolate fiend, come to an arrangement with them so that they don’t smoke or eat sweets around you. Go as far as asking them to lock these items away if it will help you.
Take the time to think about any other circumstances or places outside of your home where you’re likely to encounter further temptation and make plans as to how you’ll deal with these.
If your resolution is to practice more yoga reduce the urge to spend the evening snoozing on the sofa by making sure that your yoga kit is always freshly laundered and within easy reach.
8. Vision Board
A vision board is a visual representation of the things or ways of being that you’d like to bring into your life. You can create this collage using a blend of words and images from magazines. If your intention is to meditate or travel more you might include images of people meditating or the country you’d like to visit. Keep the vision board somewhere you can see it daily, or perhaps even meditate on it, so that you can start to manifest your goals.
Best of luck and Happy New Year!