Every year on January 2nd you can go to a gym and find it packed full of people determined to pull off their New Year's Resolution to lose weight. There are many statistics on resolution failure. Why don't we stick with our plans for self improvement? How do we find more long term success in our first of the year goals?
How to set yourself up for success
The "fresh start effect" is what researchers call a separation between a specific date or event in the past, and the new future self or goal. These specific times create a quest for a new outcome or more meaning to life. This is a good catalyst for change.
Having begun the process of change with the desire for a fresh start, its important to create effective resolutions.
- Use other notable dates or events to refresh enthusiasm for the resolution. On Valentine's Day, take a look at your goal to meet new people. Every Monday morning, go to the gym for pilates.
- Find pleasurable coping mechanisms to go with less pleasant activities. Before going out with friends on Friday nights, check your budget for the month. Only after you work out do you get to watch TV.
- Lessen the decisions you have to make each day- they eat away at will power. Anything from wearing the same style clothing each day to automating your cleaning chores with lists will cut down on the amount of decision making you do each day.
- Set a range for your goals. Instead of cutting back to two cigarettes a day, aim for 1-4. This will allow your brain to find your goals more attainable.
- Make goals specific and listable on a to-do list. Intentions such as "Lose Weight" and "Make more money" end up falling to the bottom of the to-do list and will likely stay there, never to experience the satisfaction of the "delete" button. Instead try a specific resolution that might look... more specific: Lose weight by attending Curves every Tuesday and Thursday and try eating less processed food for two weeks.
- Enlist a friend with the same resolution. If you are aimed at losing weight, find a friend with the same goal. Instead of meeting up for drinks, join a local running club, or find a cycling group. You will get the added bonus of meeting new people in your community and working on a hobby.
Finally, it just takes accepting the process of acting on your resolution. Change moves in when something causes us enough pain or discomfort to do something about it. Habits are generally formed after a month of consistent application and activity so keep on moving forward into 2016. If you are still looking to create a resolution for the new year, take a look at yourself on our Wellness Wheel.