Keeping your resolutions is hard. Less than 8% of people are successful at keeping their resolutions for a whole year. If you made it past January 12th, then you are already past a big hurdle. If you’re determined to keep going or get back on track, then here are some ideas to think about that will help you reach your goals.
How To Form New Habits
Forming new habits is hard, especially if it involved breaking old, pleasurable ones. Scientific studies suggest that it can take anywhere between 18 and 254 days to form a new habit. The average time lands nearer 66 days. The harder the thing you’re trying to do is the longer it will take. So bear this in mind.
If your resolution involves breaking a bad habit, like drinking less coffee or quitting smoking, then don’t just concentrate on the habit. Look at the circumstances that surround your habit. Circumstances have a significant impact on your habit. For example, if you drink coffee at the local coffee shop on your way to work. Try taking a different route to work that doesn’t go past the coffee shop. That way, you don’t have to try and resist temptation.
To make a new habit, you can try and link something pleasurable to the habit that you are trying to build. For instance, if you want to exercise more, why not make that the only time you get to listen to your favourite podcast. If you can make your resolution enjoyable, it will become a habit more quickly.
Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic Motivations
When you are trying to make a big change in your life, it is really important that you know why you are making the change. Sit down and think about the real reasons behind your resolution.
Motivation can be split into two different types. Intrinsic motivation, which means that you are doing something because it’s what you want because it makes you happy, or there is an outcome that you want to achieve. Extrinsic motivation is based on external pressure. It could be to achieve a reward from someone else or to avoid a punishment.
Which sort of motivation works best is individual. With a bit of self-reflection, you can probably identify which works for you. If you find yourself unsure of which motivates you best, then the best option is to find yourself an intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for your resolution. For example, if you resolve to exercise more, intrinsic motivation might be to make you feel better and healthier. The extrinsic motivation might be that it will set a good example for your children.
Dream Big, Start Small
Having a big goal is great. Aiming to make a huge change in your life is commendable. However, you need to take time to split it into small steps. If you just keep aiming for one large goal it can be demoralising. Without small successes on the route to your big goal, you may well find yourself quitting.
If your resolution is to run a marathon and you've never run before, then you're going to have a lot of work to do. It's not realistic to expect yourself to start running 5 or 10km every day, to begin with.
Identify challenging but achievable intermediate goals then when you reach them you get the sense of satisfaction and achievement and you move on to your next challenging but achievable goal.
Basically, it's all about setting yourself up for success and not for failure.
As we've already said, most people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions. So if you have a slip-up, you slide back or get off course, don't beat yourself up about it. Most importantly, don't use it as an excuse to quit entirely.
When you set yourself a challenging goal, you need to be realistic. Better still, you need to be forgiving. If you can fail and then bounce back and keep going, then you are on the road to success.
It's really easy to make one mistake and then just compound it. For example, if your resolution is to eat more healthily. Then you have a day where you have seconds on dessert. It could be easy just to pile on and continue overeating. What you need to do instead is acknowledge that you made a mistake but then move on. Don't wallow. Take it as a learning experience.
Good luck. We know you can do it.