New Year’s resolutions date back 4,000 years to the Babylonians, who celebrated their first barley harvest. Those resolutions are still prevalent in modern times, with 38.5% of adults setting resolutions every year. A staggering 43% of all people expect to fail in their resolutions before February, and almost one out of four quit within the first week of setting their New Year’s resolution. Most people quit before the end of January, and only 9% see their resolutions through until succession.
The secret to becoming part of the 9% that succeed? Only set New Year’s resolutions that are highly relevant, timely, and specific to you.
So, what else can we do to give ourselves the best chance of success?
Understanding how our brains work and why we often go wrong with our resolutions is the key to success.
Research shows that the best moment to start is whenever you are ready to commit to your goals. In other words, choose the most relevant and timely New Year’s resolutions.
If you have a New Year’s resolution that you want to pursue but feel unprepared for, make the goal smaller. For example, instead of setting a resolution to change your entire diet, start by changing what you eat for breakfast.
We’ve put together our top Tips to help keep you on track:
Top Tip 1: Set Realistic Goals
Setting a goal that is unattainable creates stress and overwhelm in making it very unlikely that we will even start working towards it in let alone achieve it!
Consistently set small and realistic short-term goals.
Set specific and challenging long-term goals (if you feel ready).
The trick is to set yourself a goal that takes you a few steps outside your comfort zone – enough that it challenges you but not so much that it overwhelms you.
Top Tip 2: Chunking - One Chunk at a Time
Break your goals down into small chunks. This means that each time you achieve a small chunk of the journey towards your goal you get a hit of your feel-good hormone serotonin which gives you a sense of achievement and motivates you to take further action. If your goals are too big you will have to wait a lot longer to get your hit of motivation!
Top Tip 3: Know Your “Why”
At this time of year many people’s focuses is on being fitter and healthier but understanding why this is important is key to your motivation. It’s not enough to say I want to lose 10kg, you need to understand why that is important to you.
Deeply understand why you want to change. What’s your big motivation? Why is it now necessary to change?
It might be because you are getting married and want to look amazing on your wedding day, or it might be that it will reduce health risks like high blood pressure.
But why is that important to you? It might be because you want to be able to support your family or because you have a holiday of a lifetime coming up that requires you to be fit and healthy.
Whatever your goal is keep asking yourself “why” until you get to the real nub of the issue because that is what will keep you motivated.
Top Tip 4: Make it a Habit
Making a small change that can be repeated often throughout the day is more likely to stick and become a lasting behaviour. So if you want to do 100 sit ups a day set yourself a goal of doing 10 sit ups every time you boil the kettle! Our brain learns through repetition so the more we repeat something the quicker it will get set as a habit in our brain. And we know how powerful habits can be!
Top Tip 5: Start the Day Right
Our willpower is directly related to how much energy our brain has available to it (around 500 calories). To keep up a steady flow of energy, and therefore willpower, start the day with a good quality protein breakfast and then top up on healthy high protein snacks like nuts or seeds throughout the day. This way you won’t run out of willpower just when you need it the most!
Top Tip 6: Improve your sleeping schedule
Along with eating the right foods, rest is essential to restore our brain energy and our willpower. That includes consistent waking and bedtimes. So, make sure you get plenty of shut eye to keep you on track.
If you’re struugling to sleep at night it might be tiome to speak to us.
Top Tip 7: Focus Purely on What You Want Rather Than What You Don’t Want
Our brain doesn’t really like the word “don’t”. If I tell you “Don’t think of a blue elephant” I am quite sure you are now thinking about a blue elephant! A subtle shift in focus makes a real difference when you’re trying to form new habits – rather than saying “I don’t want to eat sweets” and shifting all your brain’s focus to the packet of sweets, try saying to yourself “I only eat the healthy food” and see what happens.
Top Tip 8: Focus on Your Successes
Every time you celebrate an achievement your brain releases the feel-good hormone serotonin, helping to motivate you further towards your goals. It’s a wonderful, natural, internal reward system that will help to keep you on track!
Top Tip 9: Be Kind to Yourself
All the research shows us that the guilt we feel when we don’t stick to our resolutions makes us more likely to quit. By being kinder to yourself you are much more likely to go back to working towards your goals rather than feeling you are a hopeless cause who will never be able to do it.
So next time you don’t quite achieve what you wanted to do, speak to yourself kindlier, for example “I know I didn’t go to the gym as many times as I wanted to this week but that’s ok, I had to stay at work late for that emergency and I know I’ll be back on it next week”.
Top Tip 10: Get an Accountability Partner
Support and interpersonal strategies became important after the first six months of pursuing the goal. Nobody wants to let others down so find yourself a partner who will either join you in your resolution or who will check in with you each week to hear about your progress.
Is a family member or friend pursuing similar goals who want to join you? Alternatively, find like-minded people online with the same goals.
This isn’t a partner who will pat you on the back and say “never mind” if you don’t achieve your goal, this person needs to be prepared to ask what you will do differently next week if you didn’t stick to it this week. So, make sure you give them permission to push you outside of your comfort zone!
If you’d like to find out how hypnotherapy could help you achieve your goals this year, click here to schedule a free initial discovery consultation!