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Sustaining New Year’s Resolutions: A Hypnotherapeutic Approach to Overcoming ‘Quitter’s Day’

The Phenomenon of “Quitter’s Day”

January 12th, often termed as “Quitter’s Day,” marks a common turning point where many abandon their New Year’s resolutions. The initial enthusiasm wanes, and the reality of sustaining long-term change becomes daunting. Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science, highlights a fundamental issue: our goals often exceed our capacity for sustained effort. This isn’t a flaw but a reflection of how our minds are wired – to excel in the short-term but falter in the long-term.

Embracing Small, Achievable Goals

The key to overcoming this hurdle is to recalibrate our approach. Breaking down grand resolutions into smaller, manageable goals can significantly enhance our ability to commit in the long haul. This method aligns with the principles of hypnotherapy and ACT employed at Release Hypnosis. By focusing on achievable steps, we can maintain momentum and avoid the disillusionment that often accompanies ambitious, undefined goals.

The Middle Problem: Sustaining Momentum

Fishbach identifies the ‘middle problem’ – the tendency to lose steam after starting a goal. This is where the journey becomes less about the excitement of beginning or the satisfaction of completing, but more about persisting through the mundane, less rewarding middle phase. Hypnotherapy can be particularly effective here, offering techniques to reframe our mindset and keep us engaged during this critical period.

Setting Positive, Exciting Goals

It’s also crucial to choose resolutions that spark genuine excitement and interest. Goals shouldn’t be solely about avoidance (e.g., not doing something) but should focus on positive actions and outcomes. This positive framing is more likely to inspire and maintain motivation.
The Power of Specificity

Quantifying resolutions can transform them from vague aspirations to concrete plans. Instead of a broad goal like “drink more water,” specifying “start the morning with a glass of water” gives a clear, actionable step. This specificity is a cornerstone of both hypnotherapy and ACT, where clear, measurable objectives form the basis of progress.

Balancing Goals with Practicality

A practical assessment of our current commitments is essential. Adding new goals often means making space by possibly shedding less critical activities. This balancing act requires honesty and sometimes difficult choices, but it’s a critical part of making resolutions sustainable.

Behavioral Activation Techniques

Behavioral Activation is a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach that focuses on engaging in activities aligned with one’s values and interests, particularly useful for sustaining New Year’s resolutions. It’s based on the idea that positive activities can lift one’s mood and motivation, making it easier to stick to goals. By identifying and committing to these activities, individuals can create a positive feedback loop, reinforcing their commitment to their resolutions.

For instance, if someone’s resolution is to get fit, incorporating enjoyable physical activities like dancing, hiking, or team sports can enhance their commitment. It’s not just about the exercise but about finding joy and meaning in the activity, making it less of a chore and more of a fulfilling part of one’s lifestyle. This approach can be applied to various resolutions, ensuring they are not only beneficial but also enjoyable.

Role of Community and Support Systems

Sharing your New Year’s resolutions with a supportive community can significantly enhance your chances of sticking to them. Whether it’s friends, family, or a dedicated group (like a fitness class or a book club), having others who are aware of your goals can provide a sense of accountability. This network can offer encouragement during challenging times and celebrate your successes, making the journey less isolating and more rewarding.

It’s essential to choose a support system that aligns with your goals and values. Online forums, local clubs, or even professional groups can offer the necessary support and motivation. For example, joining a running club not only provides a community of like-minded individuals but also introduces a regular schedule and group activities that can help in maintaining the resolution to stay active.

The Science of Habit Formation

Understanding how habits are formed in the brain can empower individuals to change them effectively. Habits are formed through a loop of cue, routine, and reward. By recognizing the cues that lead to certain behaviors and altering the routine while keeping the reward constant, one can effectively change a habit. This neurological perspective is critical in understanding why some resolutions fail and how to rewire our habits to support our goals.

For resolutions to stick, they need to become habits. This means consciously creating a routine that’s triggered by specific cues and delivers a rewarding experience. For example, if the resolution is to write daily, setting a specific time (cue), creating a pleasant writing environment (routine), and enjoying a cup of tea afterwards (reward) can turn this into a habit.

Impact of Diet and Physical Health

A balanced diet plays a crucial role in sustaining New Year’s resolutions, especially those related to health and wellness. Nutritional choices affect energy levels, mood, and overall health, which in turn impact one’s ability to stay committed to goals. A diet that supports physical and mental well-being can make it easier to maintain the discipline and energy required to pursue resolutions.

Making gradual changes towards healthier eating habits can support long-term resolution success. This might include planning meals, incorporating more fruits and vegetables, or reducing processed foods. Such changes not only contribute to physical health but also enhance mental clarity and emotional stability, essential for sustaining resolutions.

Stress Management Techniques

Stress can be a major impediment to maintaining New Year’s resolutions. It can lead to burnout, loss of motivation, and derailment of progress. Managing stress is therefore crucial in the journey towards sustained change. Techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and yoga can be effective in mitigating stress.

Incorporating stress management techniques into daily life can provide the resilience needed to maintain resolutions. For example, starting the day with a mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can set a calm, focused tone for the day. Similarly, practicing yoga or engaging in a relaxing activity in the evening can help decompress and maintain a balanced state of mind, essential for keeping up with resolutions.

Mind-Body Connection

The connection between mental and physical well-being is profound and has significant implications for maintaining New Year’s resolutions. A healthy body supports a healthy mind, and vice versa. This interplay is essential in understanding how physical health can impact our mental state and ability to stick to our goals. For example, regular physical activity not only improves physical health but also boosts mood and cognitive function, aiding in resolution adherence.

To make the most of this connection, it’s important to choose resolutions that nurture both mental and physical health. Activities like yoga, which combines physical exercise with mindfulness, or hobbies that involve both mental and physical engagement, like gardening, can be particularly effective. These activities help maintain a balance that supports overall well-being, crucial for sustaining long-term change.

Reflection and Adjustment Strategies

Regular reflection on progress can play a crucial role in maintaining New Year’s resolutions. It allows for an assessment of what’s working and what’s not, providing an opportunity to recalibrate strategies and goals. This reflection should be a positive and constructive process, focusing on learning from experiences rather than dwelling on setbacks.

Flexibility is key in sustaining resolutions. Life circumstances and priorities can change, and so might the strategies needed to maintain resolutions. It’s important to be open to adjusting goals, perhaps breaking them down further or changing tactics if the current approach isn’t working. This adaptive mindset ensures that resolutions remain relevant and achievable, even as situations evolve.

Integrating Hypnotherapy and ACT in Daily Routines

At Release Hypnosis, we advocate integrating hypnotherapy and ACT into daily routines. Hypnotherapy can aid in accessing the subconscious, reinforcing positive behaviors, and reshaping negative thought patterns. ACT, with its focus on mindfulness and acceptance, helps in staying present and engaged, reducing the likelihood of falling back into counterproductive habits.

Mindfulness: A Tool for Sustaining Resolutions

Mindfulness, a shared element of both hypnotherapy and ACT, is particularly effective in maintaining New Year’s resolutions. It encourages a moment-to-moment awareness, helping individuals to stay focused on their goals and to recognize early signs of waning motivation.

Overcoming Setbacks: The Role of Resilience

Setbacks are an inevitable part of any journey towards change. Hypnotherapy and ACT provide tools to build resilience, allowing individuals to view setbacks not as failures but as learning opportunities. This shift in perspective is crucial for sustaining resolutions beyond “Quitter’s Day.”

The Journey Beyond “Quitter’s Day”

As we navigate past January 12th, it’s important to remember that sustaining resolutions is a continuous process. It’s about evolving and adapting our strategies, being kind to ourselves when we falter, and celebrating the small victories along the way.

Sustaining New Year’s Resolutions With Release Hypnosis

Since 2016, Lawrence Akers has been working under the name Release Hypnosis offering Hypnotherapy and ACT-based work to the people of Melbourne or an online service. Based on St Kilda Rd, Release Hypnosis is an easy and convenient location to get to and accessible by the ANZAC station train and tram stop. Release Hypnosis can help with a wide range of presenting issues, and I offer a free 30-minute no-obligation discovery call for those who are unsure if hypnotherapy is the right way forward for them.

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