I want to talk to you about how you can make your New Year resolution successful once and for all.
Each year, 45% of us will make promises but only 8% will succeed. So what can we learn from the SUCCESSFUL 8 so we can apply it in our own lives?
New Year’s resolutions are nothing new. Actually it goes back 4000 years to ancient Babylonia.
Babylonians would promise to the gods at the beginning of the year (which was in mid-March when the crops were planted) to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If they kept their promise, the Gods would bestow a favor the following year. If they didn’t keep their promise and decided to not return that “Louis Vuitton” bag they borrowed from their best friend, they would deal with the wrath of the Gods — a position nobody wanted to be in.
Ancient Romans had a similar practice after Julius Caesar established January 1st as the beginning of the year around 46 B.C. Romans would offer sacrifices and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
Today, we make the promises to ourselves and tend to focus purely on self-improvement — losing weight, eating better, learning new hobbies or promising ourselves to live life to the fullest.
But why is it so difficult to stick with our resolutions? Why do we give up so fast on promises to get in shape or make healthier food choices?
Here are my top 3 reasons why people fall off the wagon and what you can do find a position in the coveted Successful 8% group.
Reason #1 — we tend to make big promises instead of small changes
Our brain adapts better to micro goals. Adding or cutting down on 1 item is easier than trying to change everything all at once.
Let’s focus on 1 thing first (the most important to you). Think small.
If trying to cut sugars or carbs from your diet is your resolution, let’s start by cutting down on one bad thing instead of running like a bat out of hell every time you see a pie. Do you eat ice cream every night while watching television? Let’s make Monday night the official ice-cream free night. Start with that.
Like everything in life, once you start cutting something like sugar, your desire for it will slowly dissipate until you reach the point where your cravings greatly decrease.
The same is true for working out. If you promise to do every exercise class on the schedule on January 1, you will not make it through the end of the week. Instead, start with a walk. Once you begin to realize how amazing you feel after this moderate exercise, you will want to add other fitness days to your weekly schedule.
It’s about sustainability. Create a plan you are able to stick with for the rest of your life.
Reason #2 – We get impatient — remind yourself this will take time; patience is crucial in changing habits or behaviors
How much time? It could be anywhere from a few weeks to months. It really depends how strong your desire is and how disciplined you are.
If getting back into shape is your New Year’s resolution, you may have to push yourself at the beginning to wake up an hour earlier until it becomes your new pattern. It’s always hard before it becomes easy. But nothing good comes without some sacrifice, right?
Every time you repeat something – good or bad — you are actually helping your brain create a new neural pathway. Do you ever think about brushing your teeth at night? Not anymore because you’ve done it for so long that it’s become automatic. The brushstroke pattern is probably the same every time. But I know, as a father of a 3 year old, how difficult it is to instill this fairly new habit. I literally have to run after her and pin her down to get her to brush her teeth. I now reward her when she goes one month without a fight. We even have a calendar where she puts a sticker on every time she brushes her teeth. It comes down to basic human nature. We chose joy over pain. That is how we are hardwired. For my daughter, receiving a little gift every month is more fun than the pain of brushing her teeth. That essentially motivates her to let me brush her teeth.
What about you? What brings you the most joy? Feeling more energized, happier and healthier after a workout or skipping your sweat session in favor of a happy hour at the local bar?