New year resolutions - do they evoke enthusiasm or disappointment in you? Are you able to follow them through? Does the idea of setting further goals energize you or leave you feeling demotivated?
80% of all New Year resolutions fail by mid-February. Why? The answer could lie in the evolution and creation of that resolution. If the resolution was largely influenced by societal or peer pressure or was vague without a realistic plan, that could be a reason for its failure.
Habits are our brain’s way to be more efficient. By being in autopilot mode, our brain is not overwhelmed by every small action. Additionally, it frees us space to focus on what we choose. Habits do not start as an automatic behavior but end up that way after the repeating learned behavior. Therefore, how do you get better at instilling new habits following your resolutions? Read on
Per Carlbring tracked the progress of 1,066 people who made New Year Resolutions at the end of 2017. He categorized their intentions into two classes. Some of these were 'avoidance goals', which involved quitting something like sweets or social media. The others were 'approach goals', which involved adopting a new habit such as swimming twice a week or practicing the guitar in the evening. On average, the participants were about 25% more likely to meet their approach goals than the avoidance goals. “Instead of stopping things, you should start doing things,” he concludes.
For example, “Instead of saying that I want to stop eating a candy bar every day, I might instead say that I want to start eating carrots each afternoon. Because that would increase your blood-sugar level, and you then wouldn't have the craving for something else,” he says. Turning an avoidance goal into an approach goal maximizes chances of success.
The moment you connect your resolution to a vision that you hold for yourself, the greater are the chances of you working towards it. Write down the five most important values you believe in and see how your resolution aligns with those values to create a meaningful present and future.
While setting, set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals. Start by thinking of the first step you can take towards your Mount Everest trek and do it well.
The brain releases dopamine and endorphins when you achieve a goal. Break down your Mount Everest into tiny steps, with the completion of each small step in the journey of that goal. By this, the new habit will be reinforced. Reward yourself for the small and big wins!
Psychologist Carol Dweck and her colleagues have shown that when people see failure as the natural result of striving to achieve something challenging, they are more likely to persist to the goal. However, if people perceive failure as a definitive sign that they are not capable or deserving of success, failure can lead to surrender.
Accomplishing changes to your schedule required patience and persistence. Expect and prepare yourself to hit a few roadblocks on your journey. Forgiving yourself for your failure and seeing it as a lesson learned could help you achieve that goal you have for yourself. By understanding the psychology of personal change, you can vastly increase your chances of reaching your goals.