Happy new year peeps!! 😀
Don’t we all consider the start of the new year, like the start of a new chapter in life? Eventually, we end up taking up New Year’s resolutions. They are meant to make improvements to our lives in some way. So far, so good. Question here, however, is how good are we in really keeping up with our resolutions/goals?
We wake up on January 1st with the best of the intentions and loads of energy to tackle our well laid plan to execute our resolution. The first couple of weeks usually go along beautiful, but more often than not we end up backsliding. Come end of the year, we are back at square one or sometimes even further behind. In fact, researchers say, 80% of us will fail by the second week of February.
It can be daunting when our list of New Year’s resolutions is as long as our holiday shopping list. Unable to keep up to our resolutions, sure our anxiety starts kicking in and before we realize we are in a slump of self-pity. However, it is important to remember that the new year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle change. In my previous blog, I’ve sighted a few lessons 2020 taught us. Now it’s up to us to keep it in our mind and behavior forever, or let it be just another terrible year.
Are you setting the right resolutions?
Setting resolutions has become fancy these days. However, I believe that most of our New Year’s resolutions not only fail but can also make things worse. We all want to live in a safe comfort zone where we have scripted our life with the subconscious mind. Apparently, our subconscious acts as a record that repeats the same song over and over again. We might be telling ourselves all day long that we want something different from our past. But in vain, our history plays back by default, and we get the same results.
Unfortunately, most of us create too much resistance by injecting too many resolutions and goals into our minds. It’s important to not bite off more than we can chew. It’s human nature to evolve and shift our habits and preferences over time as our surroundings and circumstances change. The fact of the matter is, things change.
Committing to one resolution for an entire year – with no wiggle room for that resolution to evolve — doesn’t fit into how life really works. It’s inevitable that when trying to give up something, there will be lapses. We shouldn’t feel guilty about giving in to the cravings but accept that it is part of the learning process. If you think this all sounds like too much hard work and that it’s not worth making resolutions to begin with, bear in mind that people who make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t.
How to set them right?
Maybe now you want to know how to cultivate New Year’s resolutions in a way that won’t leave you frustrated in a couple months!
It’s important to remember that real change takes time, effort and patience. According to research from University College London, it takes about 66 days to completely break an old habit. And it can take much longer to master something new. While we are anchoring this unique pattern of action into our life, we are also uploading a new program in our subconscious. Hence, to stay motivated, it is important to celebrate even the smallest positive changes. Motivation begets motivation, after all.
But for motivation to kick in, the goals need to be realistic. We need to keep in mind that choosing realistic goals and achieving them improves our mindset. However, in order to achieve them, we need to make a plan, as specific as possible, so that we have a track of what we are doing and why.
Tracking goals is a great way to hold yourself accountable. And in the process of tracking, aim for progress, not perfection. We have to keep our focus on how far we are left to go, rather than on the progress we’ve already made.
Your brain can’t handle New Year’s resolutions – here is why
What we need to stick to our New Year’s resolutions is willpower. Your brain cells that operate willpower are located in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area right behind your forehead.
That particular area of the brain is also responsible for staying focused, handling short-term memory and solving abstract tasks for example. Now, when you set a New Year’s resolution, an enormous amount of willpower is required. It’s an amount that your brain simply can’t handle. So, your pre-frontal cortex that handles willpower is like a muscle, that needs to be trained. (Source: Buffer Blog)
Now the problem is clear: any abstract goal you have that is not tied to a specific behavior is nearly impossible for your brain to focus on. Making it “instinctual,” which is the crucial aspect that will help you achieve any new habit.
However, one very comforting and important last fact is that having strong willpower is not something we’re born with, as opposed to popular opinion. So just like your bicep has to be trained in order to grow stronger, so does the prefrontal cortex in your brain.
The yearly ritual of setting resolutions, doesn’t have to be an annual disappointment. Sometimes, the difference between success and failure is simply choosing the right goal and the process you use to go about achieving it. So now you tell me, what were your new year’s resolution? And how were you planning to approach it? Write to me or DM me on Instagram @untamedmusing