When you google ‘New Years Resolutions’ over a 24 million results come up. Lets start this year with honesty – how many New Year’s resolutions have you actually made in your life? And how many have you successfully accomplished? Well the estimates have some bad news, because less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are actually achieved!!!
Now let’s face it, it’s pointless to wait a whole year to decide on one or two things that you sort of want to stop or start doing, but you might not be completely committed to them, it’s just because everyone does it.
There’s two main reasons that your New Year’s resolutions won’t work:
1. Habitual behaviour
2. The self
Let’s talk about the habits
Most New Year’s resolutions are about creating new habits or changing those existing ones you have. If your resolutions are about things such as eating healthier, exercising more, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, reading more books – these will be all new habits being introduces. And that is not easy.
What are habits?
Habits are automatic responses. Habits are things you do repetitively over and over every day for a longer period of time, it is a comfortable and secure place which is why change might just seem a little impossible at times. To change an old habit you essentially have to ‘upgrade’ it or create a new one.
How to create a new habit:
• Chose only 1 or 2 small actions and be very specific, otherwise it won’t work. Hence why telling yourself to ‘do more exercise’ will never work, instead try setting yourself up to ‘walking to work 2x a week’, ‘take the stairs instead of the lift every morning’, ‘have a green smoothie for breakfast every Monday and Friday’, or ‘sign up to a yoga class 1x a week’, and so on.
• Link your new habit to an old one. Find a well established habit, if you already walk to work 2x a week – make it 4x a week from now on, or add two days walking and two days cycling to work. Just simply make an upgrade by connecting a new habit to an existing (conditioned) one.
• Take it easy! You are trying to set up an automatic response, so you need to practice the new habit from 3 to 7 times before it will actually become a habit. Help yourself to make the transition easier and faster by setting up a reminder on your phone or stick a note up on your fridge. Again, keeping the notes/ reminders simple: ‘I am taking the stairs today’.
Lets talk about the self:
For the new habit to fully work you need to change your behaviour a little too. We all have an opinion about ourselves that delivers actions. You have an idea of who you are and what matters to you, and this has a powerful influence on your decisions and actions. We naturally make decisions based on staying true to ourselves and most of this decision-making happens subconsciously.
Create a story about your new self! Sit down and set to write, for example if your goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables during the weekends, then first write down a story that is realistic and shows that at time it can be hard and frustrating for you to eat healthy when there is all this chocolate and crips around the house and so on. Then try to re-write that story as your better self – a person who enjoys eating healthy and loves the taste of raw fruits and vegetables. Write about yourself as a person who respects its body and wants to nourish it as much as possible. See how the perspective can be changed?
Here are 3 reasons why New Year resolutions won’t work in Hove or indeed anywhere:
1. They are about what you think you should do, not about what you really – truly want to do for yourself
2. There is no motivation, no drive, no commitment – you need a solid foundation to make changes happen
3. The timing is wrong – getting back into the swirl of reality after the two weeks of Christmas not-much-doing, over-eating, alcohol-drinking and not-exercising is hard enough on its own, without you introducing any new habits and new to-dos because you have to.
So skip the half-hearted decisions / resolutions that simply won’t work for anyone anywhere. Instead, make confident choices based on what really matters to you, put yourself in 100% and remember that it does not need to be the beginning of a new year to make some great changes in your life.
Give it a try and good luck!