As it’s the New Year, now is the time for people to consider what they want to get out of 2015 and start thinking about fresh starts, new beginnings and of course New Year’s Resolutions.
With a suggested 88% of resolutions failing which translates to approximately 150 million resolutions every year, it is clear that your brain is not automatically wired to succeed at keeping resolutions any more than your muscles are automatically wired to succeed at running a marathon yet every year people ask their brain to perform the mental equivalent. So when you want to clear the cobwebs and start the New Year as the New You, how can you stop giving up on giving in?
The key to success is to think of your brain like a muscle that needs fuel and rest, remind it regularly of its obligations and give it the right conditions to function at optimum. Research has shown the prefrontal cortex is responsible for willpower and like a muscle it needs feeding, exercise, repetition and rest. Here are my top tips on how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions and ensure your willpower supports your desire to make long lasting changes for the better.
1. Make A Commitment
The point I stress to my clients around resolution time is that to keep motivated and achieve their goals they need to make a powerful commitment and hold themselves accountable to that commitment. I compound the fact that without the right focus their good intentions will just fall down leading to unhelpful consequences. Thankfully help is at hand in the form of commitment websites which enable us to make a tangible promise to reach our goals through helpful encouragement and accountability using a Commitment Contract. One of my favourites that I recommend to clients is stickK that literally puts your money on the line if you don’t achieve your goal.
2. Realign Your Beliefs
If you do what you’ve always done then you will get what you’ve always got. I work with my clients to identify the limiting beliefs which hold them back from being the best version of themselves. When it comes to making a fresh start, it’s vital not to take your past into your future. Learn to let go of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours which have not served you well thus far. You may find it helpful to look at the rules or “shoulds” that have governed your personal and professional life before working on changes to your perception or approach so that you focus on helpful thoughts and positive self talk. Consider working with a life coach or mentor who can help you achieve your dreams in the fastest possible time.
3. Money Matters
Don’t forget to take some time out for financial planning as 8 out of 10 people last year did not plan their finances but still stated that financial stability was important to them. So whether you’re setting a savings or spending budget, creating an emergency fund, finding a way to increase clients, productivity or income, focus on the steps you need to take to make your life more financially favourable. Remember just like extreme dieting results in an inevitable binge, setting a tough budget will result in an unplanned shopping spree. Set reasonable goals and become more mindful of your spending whilst still enjoying that which life has to offer such as connection to loved ones or contribution to your community.
4. Constant Reminders
One of the best ways to stay focused on your resolutions is to remind yourself on a regular basis why it is important to achieve your goal and what you need to do to get there. This can be in the form of Post-It notes with motivational messages stuck strategically around the house, using an app like HassleMe to set daily or even hourly reminders, or even using a motivational photo of you looking awesome as the screensaver on your smartphone or computer. Write postcards to yourself congratulating you on how well you are doing and get your friends to send them periodically when they see your resolve might be weakening. A vision board covered in aspirational images that represent your dreams and ambitions also works very well at getting you in the right mindset to move towards that which you desire.
5. Vocalise Your Promises
Don’t just make promises to yourself that you can easily break behind closed doors. Share your resolutions with friends and family and promise them that you will do your best to achieve your goal. Then practise being your word so that the people in your life see you as honourable and someone whose integrity they can count on. This will not only make you look good but also bring you closer to the people you care about. Write postcards to yourself congratulating you on how well you are doing and how committed you are to your resolution and why it is so important to you. Ask your friends to send them periodically when they see your resolve might be weakening.
Whichever tips and techniques you decide work best for you to stick to your resolutions, it is crucial that you take action and keep moving forward as this is exactly the advice I give clients who have struggled with change in the past. If life is a game then you need to stop being a spectator and get out on the pitch to play to win. This involves things like avoiding procrastination, putting up a year planner, setting budgets, writing lists, prioritising tasks and getting organised. It helps to set yourself realistic targets based on what can be achieved in the time you have available so break jobs down into constituent parts. Be specific so you have a clear idea of what you are working towards and track your progress rewarding yourself as you meet each target. This will keep you motivated to continue your journey towards a New You in the New Year.