How to Ensure You Achieve Your New Years Resolution
Do you struggle to acehieve your New Years Resolution? For many people, creating a new year’s resolution each year helps them to step into the new year with a sense of optimism and hope. It allows them to dream out loud about what kind of person they’re eager to become, and to utilise the ritual of the new year passing to help fuel the motivation that this year, this time, it will be different.
While many people make New Year’s Resolutions, only a tiny portion of people actually make it through the first few weeks, let alone achieve the outcome that they wanted.
I recently wrote an article that looks at what you can do PRIOR to January 1st in order to help make sure that you have a rock solid plan in place and that you’re mentally prepared to take on your New Year’s Resolution with the determination and capability that you require.
In this article, I’m going to look at what happens after January 1st so that you can help keep things on track.
So, regardless of if you want to lose that weight, get in shape, stop smoking, learn to become less stressed, deal with that anxiety, break that habit and/or addiction, taking up a new hobby or even just being nicer to one another, here are some tips on what you can do post-January 1st to ensure your success.
Know your challenges and how to get around them.
As part of your preparation, you’ll no doubt have become aware of when the ‘problem habit’ usually kicks in. With that, you’ll want to consider what your triggers are and how you can get around it.
If you’re unsure about this, then have a week where you are mindfully monitoring your experience and taking note of what kinds of thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing prior to the problem behaviour kicking in. For many people, this may mean jotting down a few notes throughout their day, and it can be quite insightful as you begin to put together the pieces of the puzzle as to what this behaviour is really doing for you.
Once you know what those triggers are, it will be wiser during the initial period to stay away from those environments or triggers as much as possible.
Ensuring that you’re well rested and eating healthy will also give you the willpower to help resist temptation.
Get into a Resourceful State.
Doing something that puts you in a good mood will help to keep you in a resourceful state as well as give you that boost when willpower starts to wear down.
In one experiment, researchers gave one group of students a film clip of Robin Williams doing stand-up to watch while giving another group a film about dolphins. During the last part of the experiment, the students who had watched the funny clip were able to perform more complex tracing projects that involved lots of self-control over the students who hadn’t.
Simply allowing yourself time in the morning to quietly focus and contemplate on WHY this is important to you and what the benefits are for you will often help to keep people maintain their willpower and resilience.
In fact, knowing the WHY behind the reason for change is absolutely vital to making the change and something that you’ll be able to tap into to help build motivation and resilience. Consider what you’ll be able to achieve when you make this change? Consider what you’re being held back from doing if you don’t make this change? Consider what challenges will continue in your life if this problem remains, or perhaps what might get worse?
Keep track of your progress.
It’s important to have a clear understanding of how far you’ve come and how far you have left to go.
Use a planner, calendar, or app to track your progress and monitor your goals.
This can help you stay motivated and see the progress you’re making.
I know for me personally, if I want to focus on weight, as soon as I bring my focus to it and begin to monitor my progress, the weight begins to drop away. If you’re not bringing your focus to it fully, then you may not be as mindful in those initial weeks when you’re aiming to make new patterns.
Find ways to make your goals part of your daily routine.
It can be easier to stick to your resolutions if they become a natural part of your routine.
For example, if your goal is to exercise more, try to schedule in time for physical activity every day or integrate it into your daily routine in some way. If your goal is to save money, try to make a habit of checking your budget regularly or setting aside a certain amount of money each month.
Make it a positive affirmation and use it as your mantra
Come up with a positive affirmation that just makes you want to go for it.
Write it down on a card and look at it throughout the day. Repeat it loudly to yourself.
Also, write down the things that you’re most proud of in your life.
This will help you to not only tap into why it is important to you to make this change, but also help to bring gratitude into the equation as well.
Give your ‘Willpower a Workout’
Willpower is much like a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
One article talks about The University of Albany doing an experiment where they asked 122 smokers who were quitting to exert extra self-control for a two week period, either by avoiding lollies or by squeezing on a grip strengthener for as long as they could twice a day.
In the following month, 27% of those who had performed what had been asked of them daily successfully stopped their smoking habit, compared with just 12% of those who had been given a daily task that didn’t require self-control.
As mentioned in the previous article, having someone to check in with can be a great way to stay motivated and accountable.
Consider finding an accountability partner or joining a support group to help you stay on track.
Remember, your mind will often try to make excuses to fool you into the old habit and so having that accountability will help you to stay focused on what you want to achieve.
The need for perfection can have its pros and cons. While it means that you’re aiming for the best you can (pro), it can often mean that we can be even harsher on ourselves when we have a setback and give in (con).
The reality is that you’re likely to experience a setback of some kind while trying to give up. That’s ok; you’re only human. Simply get back on track, observe what you have to learn from the setback and keep on going. Once you’ve connected with the ‘why is this important to me’, you’ll be doing it for all the right reasons.
These ‘all or nothing’ states (or ‘black and white thinking’) make it hard for us to register how successful we are at changing our habits. Instead of thinking ‘I’ll never eat lollies again’, reduce it to specific times.
Additionally, I’ve seen too many people ‘fall off the wagon’ of their change because of a set back and throw it all in. Practicing resilience, recognizing that it is just one set back, and getting on with what is important to you will help you during this transformational period.
Don’t be afraid to adjust your goals. If you find that your goals are too ambitious or that your plan isn’t working as well as you’d like, it’s okay to make adjustments. Just be sure to do it in a way that’s sustainable and doesn’t set you back. It’s better to make small, achievable goals than to set yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations.
Practicing self-compassion might be useful here too, and allow you to just feel through the setback and allow you the space to get back on track.
Make sure you’ve set up specific milestones for you to achieve and have an appropriate reward planned for when you’ve hit that milestone. It will give you something to really look forward to, especially if the old habit was related to a reward mindset.
Just be sure to choose rewards that don’t undermine your goals – for example, if you’re trying to save money, a shopping spree might not be the best reward.
You can use hypnotherapy to have change habits in a multitude of ways.
You can use it to help connect with that future successful version of you.
You can use it to help resolve internal conflicts that are holding you back from being successful.
You can use it to help learn new skills to cope or to tap into skills that may already exist that you hadn’t connected to the problem state.
You can use it to help reframe the way you feel about your past habit and to help give your relationship with that habit a far different meaning.
The key thing is this; there is no magic bullet, no ‘wonder hypnosis script’ that is going to ‘cure’ everyone and change them. It comes down to a skilled hypnotherapist who asks the right questions to get to the root of the problem and who works with you to make lasting significant changes.
In summary, maintaining your New Year’s resolutions involves tracking your progress, staying accountable, being kind to yourself, making your goals part of your daily routine, adjusting your goals as needed, rewarding yourself, and staying positive. With a little bit of effort and perseverance, you can achieve your goals and make your New Year’s resolutions a reality.
Photograph: Chris Phutully/CC
You may also like to read:
How To Stop The Negative Thoughts From Taking Control
The Mindfulness Toolkit
Isn’t It Time To Tell That Smoking Habit To Butt Out Of Your Life?
Getting Ready for Change – Preparation for New Year’s Resolutions.