In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.
Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.
So why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.
2018 Keep your New Year Resolutions!
Therefore, if you are going to make New Year’s resolutions this year, here are some tips to maximise your success this time around.
- Examine your motivation for change.
Are you just feeling full and bloated at this moment? Do you have a hangover from last night? Did your last cigarette give you have a hacking cough? Or is there a more enduring reason for your desire to change? If you can’t think of a better reason than the fact that you’re uncomfortable at this moment, then you’re better off not making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep. However, if you are realistic and accept the responsibility of discipline required for change, your motivation will be sustained long after the discomfort from over-indulgence has passed.
- Set realistic goals.
Habits and behaviours that are changed gradually have a greater chance of success.
- Focus on the behavioural change more than on the goal.
For example, if you decide to control your eating, your goal for the day is not to lose a specific number of pounds, but to stick to your program. Such focus on your behaviour will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day.
- Learn to redefine physical sensations of discomfort.
Whenever we restrict ourselves, we have both physical and mental reactions. For example, a smoker feels bodily sensations when his nicotine level drops. However, he has a choice as to how he interprets these symptoms. He can define them as extremely unpleasant, or alternatively he can interpret them as his body cleansing itself of the drug.
- Make tasks non-negotiable.
People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 5:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to exercise, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you’ll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for organising your closet or taking charge of your finances. One can almost always find an excuse not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that’s based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be successful.
- Allow for imperfection.
No one is exactly on target all the time. In fact, you should expect to falter every now and then. If you give in to temptation, do not use this as an excuse to abandon the whole program. Learn from your mistake and move on.
- Do it now.
If you’re waiting for a more convenient time to begin behavioural change, it won’t happen. It’s almost never convenient to change ingrained habits. Now is just as convenient as any time.
Making changes to your life should not just be for the New Year. Try writing a 12-month plan. I will tell you why and how in another blog soon. Also, I find that doing quarterly reviews are much more effective than once a year resolutions, again I will talk more about that in my next blog.
I hope that this article 2018 how to keep your new year resolutions has helped you. I would wish you luck, but I don’t believe in luck; I believe in cause and effect. I also believe that if you want something enough then you will achieve it.
Happy New Year, let’s make 2018 the best year ever. It’s all in our hands. Let me know how you get on by contacting me on Instagram at thechrishunt and share your experiences.