Every year as the clock strikes midnight we all celebrate as a New Year graces us with its presence. We clink our glasses to a New Year where we can forget about the year prior and start with a clean slate. We are going to crush those goals and by this time next year our bank accounts will be bigger, our waists smaller and we will have finally booked that dream vacation.
I know I am guilty of indulging in this phenomena called “New Year’s Resolutions” but I have also realized that I have almost always abandoned ship when it comes to the resolutions I set by mid Feb. Irritated with my lack of follow through, I decided to hop over to my trusty sidekick, Google.
I wanted to look into the statistics of this crazy thing we all do and understand why I was epically failing.
I came to know that more than half of the population makes NY resolutions and a shocking 8% actually achieve them. Why is this? And why do we continually set ourselves up for failure if most of us never actually stick to these goals?
To learn more I turned to psychology professor Peter Herman where he identified the problem with these resolutions creating a thing called “false hope syndrome”. This is when we are making goals that are actually out of alignment with our internal view of ourselves. Therefore on a subconscious level we can’t follow through or take actions that support our goals. The worst part is most times we don’t even realize it.
I also discovered from brain scientist, Antionio Damasio that our habitual behavior is created by our thinking patterns. If we don’t address our thought process our thoughts will continue to be the same therefore our behaviors will remain the same. This creates a serious disconnect between who we are and what we are trying to be with these New Year’s resolutions.
Lastly, when we set goals or resolutions we are taught to make them SMART, specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely. While this may work for some, this type of goal setting can actually be another reason we are not attaining our desired outcome. This type of approach can cause us to be narrowly focused and can lead to behavior such as cheating. Think extreme dieting. We may get the result we are looking for but at what cost? The worst part is the results are usually temporary and then we find ourselves in the same space months later in turn reaffirming that we yet again failed.
Here are a 7 simple ways we can actually attain our New Year’s resolutions:
1. Focus on one resolution - Losing weight or getting healthy is not a realistic goal. Losing 15 pounds in 120 days is.
2. Don’t wait for a specific day to start - When we wait for New Years, Monday or next week we are not only delaying results but we are subconsciously reaffirming that we are about to attempt is going to be difficult.
3. Don’t eat the whole elephant - Many times when we set goals looking at them can seem overwhelming which can cause us to give up prematurely. When we are feeling overwhelmed we should remember the question, “How does one eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.
4. Celebrate your accomplishments - When we can celebrate what you have accomplished you are sending reward signals to your brain. This increases our chances of success and in turn makes the journey that much more fun. This doesn’t mean when you lose 15 pounds you celebrate with unhealthy food.
5. Find accountability – This one is a game changer. When we can find someone that will check in on us and make sure we are staying on track then our chances for success skyrocket. It is easy to tell ourselves that we don’t feel like it but it is much more difficult to tell someone else. Try finding a personal trainer or a health coach to help you reach your goals.
6. Be mindful - When you can focus on one thing at a time or one day at a time you can decrease the overwhelm. Taking moments to be present with where we are instead of focusing on where we think we should be can be monumental in our success.
7. Be patient – Know that anything that is worth having taken hard work. We also have to know that we may not get the results we want overnight but if we are consistent and patient with ourselves, we will potentially end up in the top 8% of the population who are kicking ass.
And lastly, have fun! We all tend to mess up, have a bad day or make mistakes. Let’s learn to laugh our way through this funny thing we call life.