Five Steps to Creating a New Year's Resolution That Actually Works
It’s that time! Time to create that New Year’s resolution!
Every New Year, millions of people around the world decide to make New Year’s resolutions. They either decide to stop doing something, such as breaking a bad habit or they decide to start doing something they believe will move them closer to some desired outcome, such as creating a new positive habit. I'm sure you can relate to this and most likely have tried to do this yourself.
A New Year's resolution is a promise to do something different in the new year. It's usually done in the spur of the moment without much thought or planning, and is often unrealistic, which dooms most people to failure from the very beginning.
What exactly are people looking for when making a resolution?
The reality is, we choose New Year’s resolutions because it’s a way to make us feel good about ourselves today. There’s something that we would like to see differently in our lives, and making that “resolution” helps us to feel good about ourselves in the present moment.
Unfortunately, less than 10% of those who make these promises to themselves keep them each year. Research from Athletic social networking site Strava reveals that the second Thursday of January is the most common day for the former resolute to start waving that white flag. By day 30 over 75% have thrown in the towel. What’s going on here?
Think about it for a moment...you’re unhappy with the weight gain from all of the holiday festivities and you tell yourself, “I’m going to lose it all. I’ll make it my New Year’s resolution!” And then you feel better about yourself for a moment because you’ve made yourself this promise. And, for the time being, you’re ok with the weight gain. But, does this actually cause change?
One big problem is that you’re making these resolutions from the perspective of who you are now, which ends up creating a conflict with who you wish to be. When we create conflict within ourselves we cause ourselves pain, which causes our brain to resist. The brain is wired to seek pleasure over pain and to take the path of least resistance to get there. This means that any promise that you make to yourself will end up being broken because it’s too painful to make the changes needed to achieve the desired outcome.
But, resolutions and goal setting can actually be a pleasurable and rewarding experience if the desired outcomes are achieved. Most people haven’t had the pleasure of achieving them though. They have let themselves down so many times and have built limiting beliefs regarding resolutions, ( ie...I never do what I say I’m going to do; things never work out for me; I can’t follow through with anything; I’m just not disciplined enough), and these limiting beliefs become the path of least resistance for the brain (an excuse not to do it), which prevents any success from happening.
Another problem with most resolutions is a lack of planning. People create resolutions and do no planning whatsoever. Sure, they may say “My resolution is to lose 20 pounds and I'm going to do this by eating right and going to the gym 5 times per week” and then they stop there with no actual plan of action. This creates a lack of vision for the brain and no path towards achieving your goal.
One more thing that causes people to break their resolutions is that they make too many promises, too many resolutions. Trying to make too many changes at once creates pain in the brain as well as confusion. The brain’s job is to conserve energy and will do whatever is needed to achieve that. If you overload it, it will shut down to conserve that energy, which means change will not happen.
So how can you make resolutions that you actually stick to and see results?
Here are 5 steps you should take when wanting to be one of the few who succeed at making the resolutions a reality:
1. Choose one resolution. Give your unconscious mind one outcome to focus on. You can even make it public! This will help you to hold yourself accountable.
WRITE it down! a HUGE mistake people make is NOT writing down their goal or resolution. There've been a lot of studies on this subject, and both psychology and neuroscience have shown the benefits that come from writing them down, but I want to share how you can take this writing down process a step further to make it come alive.
The subconscious (unconscious ) mind works in symbols, pictures, stories, and metaphors and responds extremely well to these things. Keeping this in mind,
Once you achieve it you can always create another one, any time of year.
2. Create a plan. Planning is key to your success! Think of your outcome, what is that final goal. Be sure to make your goal SMART.
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based- REALISTIC).
- Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Decide ahead of time what you want to achieve and give yourself a deadline. When it’s open-ended your brain doesn’t feel it needs to do anything right now and procrastination occurs. Or, it finds ways to give excuses for not following through. Your brain needs a plan of action, so be thoughtful with your resolutions and plan them out.
3. Chunk your plan down into realistic steps. If you haven’t exercised for years and you tell yourself you’re going to exercise every day you are setting yourself up for failure. Start with 2 or 3 times and begin creating new habits. Think of this as a lifestyle change.
4. Act as if... It’s important to think of yourself as already having achieved this resolution. See yourself as the person who has already achieved it. What is she like? How has her life changed? How does she think, feel, act? What does she say to herself and to others? Use all of your senses to create a vivid picture of this, one that you can experience as your think about it. Become her now.
This is KEY! True lasting change happens by becoming who you desire to be in your mind before you actually see it in your reality.
Make a mental picture of this as already being achieved. Write it out in a journal daily and act as if it’s already been achieved. Create a mental picture of this and look at it as if it were a movie playing on a big screen. Then, make it even more real making it more vivid, clear, and colorful. Step into this picture and see it through your own eyes; having already achieved it and feeling the glory of doing so.
5. Practice mentally rehearsing your new habits. What we rehearse mentally we tend to get. This is a powerful tool! Successful athletes mentally rehearse their strategies before they actually do them to create the results they are desiring. So many successful people in life practice mental rehearsal to help them achieve their desired outcomes.
Also by mental repetition and rehearsal, you can create a plan of action for when any challenges arise. This way you’ll have a strategy in place and a way to handle it.
Do this and your unconscious mind, which is the doer of your life, will follow suit and make it happen for you.
Some things to keep in mind as you go forward, implementing your plan to achieve your resolution:
- Understand that when the pain arises, and the old habits try to push their way back in, that you are on the right track. Reframe this pain by telling yourself you’re doing the right thing, not the wrong thing, and that 3 weeks from now you won’t be feeling this anymore. See yourself from that end result perspective.
- If you mess up don’t look at it as a failure and give up. Just because you mess up doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel! Just begin again.
Successful people are compelled to succeed and make a commitment to themselves. Commit and make it a must. Be in it to WIN IT! You got this!
To help you manifest the best year ever try Scripting! Learn more about it here: The Art of Scripting
Happy New Year!
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