Reach Your #Goals: How To Make A New Year's Resolution That Actually Works
Habits are hard to break and make, but we can all change for the better.
Though on the surface, these first days of January may not look much different from the last days of the previous year, there’s something refreshing and invigorating about the New Year. Each New Year brings with it a bit of magic. While last year we may have felt limited by our choices and circumstances, the New Year makes us aware of the many possibilities we have at our fingertips. We might have felt full of regret over our mistakes and blunders, but the New Year gives us that extra push to get up and want to be better — hence, all the New Year’s resolutions. But according to New Years resolution statistics, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
Those New Years resolution statistics may make you believe in the magic of New Year a little less, but that doesn’t mean we should stop making New Year’s resolutions. In fact, experts say you should keep at it.
Perhaps the reason why your last New Year’s resolution didn’t work out was that you made your goal too difficult to reach. Instead of vowing to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, you can lower that to 5 and see how that works out. You need to be confident that you can keep your resolution, even if you mess up every now and then.
One main reason why we keep messing up our New Year’s resolutions is that we’ve hardwired our brains into thinking that a certain task — like exercise, flossing, eating vegetables — is unpleasant. Psychologist Tim Pychyl tells Popular Science that we need to stop associating these tasks with unpleasant thoughts, and one way of doing this is through mindfulness. Studies have shown that eight weeks of meditation can change the connections in your brain. “So there are physiological changes in the plastic brain that happen when we develop some ability to bring nonjudgemental awareness to the world,” says Pychyl.
Remember those sticker stars you used to love getting back in grade school? You can give yourself the satisfaction of getting a gold star by drawing up a chart and keeping track of your daily progress. (If you wanna be extra, go ahead and buy yourself a sheet of stickers!)
Another reason why we have such a hard time changing our habits — even though we know it’d do us good — is because we think of our future selves as a distant stranger. It’s part of human nature that we rarely give our future selves any thought, prioritising the needier, current self’s wants and so-called “needs”. As you work towards fulfilling your New Year’s resolution, think about how much better you want to be a year from now, and don’t let go of that vision until you fulfil it.
If you want to correct a bad habit, you need to come up with alternatives when you have an urge to go back to your habits. For example, if you want to stop spending too much time on social media but always end up scrolling through Instagram when you’re bored, find yourself something else to do when you’re feeling bored. If you want to stop smoking but feel that urge to smoke when you’re tired, replace that cigarette with something less harmful — like a cup of coffee.
What are you doing to be part of the successful 20% of New Years resolution statistics?
(Featured image: Pexels)