New Year’s Resolutions have been a common tradition since the Babylonian era. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to self-improvement in the new. Unfortunately, most of us are guilty of giving up on resolutions almost as quickly as we make them. A Franklin Colvey poll studied 15,000 customers with resolutions; four out of five failed to complete them and a third of those didn’t make it to the end of January.
Resolutions fail due to a combination of unrealistic goals and a lack of accountability. We resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, but according to neuro-psychologists, trying to make a change by not doing something ie: NOT smoking, or NOT eating sugar, only makes these habits stronger. These behaviors have been ingrained in our brains and trying to change a habit requires rewiring our brains and creating new neural pathways to form new thinking.
According to University College London, it takes 66 days to create a habit, 66 days to change what is most likely years of a behavior. If four out of five failed to complete a resolution and third of them didn’t make it to the end of the first month, 66 days seems like a lifetime. Human beings are evolving creatures and when we want to truly change our behavior, there are ways to succeed.
Start by simply creating a realistic, specific goal. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight”, think, “I want to lose 15 lbs. in 66 days”.
Have a well thought-out plan, that includes what to do when there are bumps in the road. There will always be rough spots and we need to anticipate these so we avoid quitting at the first obstacle.
Small victories lead to a big picture. Losing 1 lb. a week seems insignificant, but if you continue this trend for 66 days you will have lost almost 10 lbs., and if you commit for the rest of the year you have the potential to lose more than 50 lbs.
Celebrate every small victory, because that’s what they are: victories. If you haven’t smoked in a week, that’s a huge reason to celebrate, not with a cigarette, of course, but perhaps a massage, something relaxing to recharge you for the next week.
Track your progress and have an accountability buddy. Having someone to share your successes with and vent to when you’re struggling helps keep you both on track. Another great way is to make your progress visible (photographic evidence!) so you’re constantly being reminded how you’ve succeeded so far and how much further you have until your next triumph.
Focus on your new way of thinking to create the neural pathways in support of your new habit.
The behaviors we are trying to change will always be there and there will be times where we revert to those old behaviors, but if we don’t focus on the slips, our new habits will become more influential and instead of a singular resolution, it will start a path to a lifestyle change.
Happy New Year and here’s to a happy, healthy, and amazing 2017!