By now you’ve probably come up with a few New Year’s resolutions, and are well under way to either achieving them, or like many your motivation to keep them up is starting to flag! Setting New Year’s resolutions is an old tradition: the Romans began each year by making promises to their god Janus (after whom January is named). It is a process of looking back over your past year, and looking forward to the new one, reflecting upon changes you want to make, and resolving to follow through. However, according to a study conducted by Richard Wiseman (University of Bristol), 88% of people who set these resolutions fail, and the 10th January is the day most people give up on them!
But this doesn’t have to be the case for you! There are some very obvious reasons many resolutions fail, and some ways to combat this!
How to stick to your resolutions:
- Don’t be vague! You hear a lot of ‘I want to lose weight’, ‘I want to do more exercise’ etc. But these are very vague notions. How much weight do you want to lose? What does ‘more exercise’ entail? Most people perform better when they have clear targets or goals. In fact, the same study cited above, also showed that men and women were 25% more likely to achieve their resolutions when they used goal setting practices. So, be specific and break your resolution down into manageable goals.
- Have an action plan! Develop a practical step by step process of achieving each of your goals. Make it reasonable and realistic, and remember that consistency is key! Use the Rule of 3: what are your 3 goals for the first 3 months of the year?
- Be prepared! Preparation is 50% of the task, so take the time to prepare for your week ahead.
- Motivation and Discipline. We spend a lot of time talking about motivation, but motivation can wane…That is where discipline comes in. Granted, motivation and discipline go hand in hand: when you’re motivated it is easier to be disciplined. But don’t expect to feel motivated every day, but be disciplined every day (or most days!).
- Joy! Boredom and instant gratification are two of the biggest killers of resolutions. I’ve heard a lot of resolutions over this last month, and I’m afraid to say that many of them sounded like boring, arduous tasks which the people in question felt they had to do. There was no joy or enthusiasm in their resolutions. Choose to do things that bring you joy! We are used to instant gratification (instant food, instant communication, instant everything), and yes, it can bring you a temporary ‘high’, but you can get far more lasting joy and satisfaction from working towards something, being patient and achieving it!
- Something to keep in mind: we are physiologically wired to get pleasure from exercise and activity. So if doing ‘more exercise’ is on your list, find an exercise, sport or activity that brings you joy! And don’t forget to have some purely fun resolutions too! Like having more nights where you dance until your feet hurt, or to spend a bit more time doing nothing and taking things easy! The Italians have a saying: ‘e dolce far niente. It’s sweet to do nothing : )
‘And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom’ Anais Nin