Resolve to Not Make Resolutions…Or At Least Make Them Realistic

Resolve to Not Make Resolutions…Or At Least Make Them Realistic
January 3, 2018

I dislike failure – even when there is a lesson with it – therefore it stands to reason I dislike New Year’s resolutions.

There is a belief that the New Year is the perfect time to pursue new goals and dreams.

This belief is so strong people make the same resolutions every year and truthfully believe “This year will be different!”

Researcher John Norcross found that about 50% of the population makes resolutions every single year and out of that group, 92% fail!

So, why such a high rate of failure? Are we just weak and lazy?

Resolutions are considered “cultural procrastination” according to Timothy Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University. But the problem is that people use resolutions to change habits they are neither ready nor committed to address, therefore they fail.

Looking back, whenever I found myself sliding just two weeks into the new year (think losing weight, start lifting heavy, stop drinking completely, stick to my budget, start a budget, etc.) I realize that my resolutions were unrealistic and out of alignment with who I wanted to be as a person.

Being thinner didn’t make me happier and honestly, sticking to my budget goes against my nature and never made me happier either. No wonder I was soon on my way back to what was comfortable.

So, what if you really want to change a behavior that’s damaging? First, please don’t wait until January 1.

For any change to work you must change your behavior. And to do that, you have to “rewire” your brain. The good news is that it is possible. Using actual MRIs, neurologists Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes confirmed our habits are created by thinking patterns that pave pathways and memories in our brain. These then become our default modus operandi.

What’s even more fascinating is that they discovered attempting to change our habitual response (trying NOT to do the bad habit) has the opposite effect; it strengthens the habit. If we are serious about change we must create new neural paths from new thinking.

Ten Tips For Resolution Success

If you’re still motivated to go after those New Year’s resolutions, here are my tips to increase your chance of success:

  1. Choose ONE resolution. Only one.
  2. Give the resolution some specificity and be realistic. “Losing weight” won’t cut it. “Losing 10 pounds in 90 days” is better.
  3. The New Year is not as special as society makes you believe. There’s no need to wait until New Year’s Eve to set benchmarks. Work on your goals every three months and review daily.
  4. Chunk it down. Another reason for failure is that we set goals that are too big. Small hinges open big doors, don’t underestimate the “momentum” effect of a small win.
  5. Enlist the help of an accountability buddy. And stay honest.
  6. Celebrate small wins and milestones along the way. No need to postpone the celebration until the goal is 100% reached.
  7. Imagine yourself performing the new behaviors. This helps create the new brain pathways needed to change habits.
  8. Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, toward your goal?
  9. Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your emotional state every day. What this does is helps you live in the moment rather than living in the past or future.
  10. Be grateful.  Studies show that a five-minute daily gratitude practice can increase your well being by more than 10%. That is equivalent to the benefit of doubling your income!



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Posted in Mindset by Mari Pizarro | Tags: , ,