If you’re like most other people, you started 2018 full of plans and schemes to improve your life. Maybe you wanted to lose weight or improve your fitness. Perhaps you wanted to learn a new language or simply spend more time reading and less time looking at pictures on Instagram.
The bad news is that only 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions and an amazing 68% abandon theirs within the first month.
As we approach the new month, it is a great time to revisit the plans you had. Don’t wait another ten months to try and fail again. There is a lot less psychological pressure on you now than in the first weeks of January, which are stressful at the best of times.
Restate your resolution, then follow our handy hints to make changes in your life that stick.
(1) Keep it simple
“I’m going to lose weight, get fit, build a garden shed, climb Mount Everest and restore a classic car, all in 2018.”
If you created a long list of resolutions you may have been doomed right from the start. The secret to creating a successful New Year’s resolution is to focus on the one single thing that promises to have the most impact on your life. Bear in mind the avalanche effect, whereby making one single change often has an effect on many other parts of your life.
It also makes much more sense to set incremental goals. Simply stating: “I want to get fit” is very, very broad. But deciding that you want to jog 2 miles every 3 days in January, 3 miles in February etc. is much more achievable and easier to focus on.
2) Make it measurable
As stated above, the road to failure is paved with vagueness. “I want to lose weight” is all fine and good but how much? By what date? How do you plan to do it? Again, breaking the change into smaller chunks or steps will make it much easier and will also give you an ongoing sense of achievement.
3) Create a reward system
The fact that you had to make a resolution most likely means the thing you want to do is not easy. Once you’ve broken it up into segments, set up a personal reward system to act as a motivational tool. “If I lose 5kgs in March, I will treat myself to a great (healthy) dinner at my favourite restaurant or book a weekend in a spa.”
4) Find a partner
Do you have a friend or relative who either might benefit from sharing your resolution or, better yet, has mentioned that they have the exact same one? There’s an old saying that a burden shared is a burden halved. It also helps immensely with self-discipline if you have someone else relying on you. Knowing that you need to meet your friend at the gym at 9 AM every morning makes it much harder to not show up. Say you decided to learn a new language. Having a partner to practice with makes it much easier.
Practicing meditation for a few minutes each day can actually boost willpower by building up gray matter in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and govern decision making.
“Paying attention to what’s happening in the moment, what’s going on in your body, your mind, and all around you, can make it easier to tune in to choices you make several hundred times a day when it comes to eating,” says health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, who teaches a class on the science of willpower at Stanford University.
Let’s say you decided to lose 10kgs by the end of May, but it’s the end of February now and rather than lose, you’ve actually gained an additional 2kgs. Changing the way you eat is difficult, especially if you eat for comfort. A program like Synctuition helps on multiple levels. Firstly, as a way to deal directly with the cravings. When you feel the undeniable urge to inhale half a chocolate cake, listening to a Synctuition track will help you refocus and stave off the urges.
Secondly, regular meditation is a magnificent tool of self-discovery. Understanding your underlying issues and gaining a clear understanding of why you fail will help you effect real change.