There’s nothing like a fresh, shiny New Year to spark our imagination and inspire us toward change. This coming year, we tell ourselves, we will be better organized, more prosperous, healthier. And we mean it.
Our optimism soars and we feel confident that this time our resolutions will stick. But, unless we’ve set goals for ourselves that are actually satisfying, that are places and things we truly want to be and have, even the sincerest resolutions tend to fizzle by the time the New Year’s Eve champagne bubbles go flat.
The most common reasons resolutions fail include setting unrealistic goals, focusing on things instead of feelings, not believing you deserve something better and resistance to change. When we tell ourselves we want to change something, subconsciously we are saying there is something wrong with who we are.
Here are some tips for turning your brain away from sabotaging thoughts and getting it wired for happier times ahead.
6 Ways to Make and Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions
- Take it Day by Day
It may sound cliche, but seriously, we all only have 24 hours in a day. Focus on what you can reasonably accomplish in a day’s time, in the present, and leave your worries at tomorrow’s doorstep. Give yourself a longer time-frame to see results or reach a goal.
Because our actions are burned into our neural patterns, it usually takes at least 21 days to construct new pathways and for muscle memory to catch up with new thought patterns.
- Allow for Adjustment
You didn’t have a crystal ball into the future when you wrote your resolutions. Keep some wiggle room in your deadlines and goals.
New information or unforeseen circumstances may require some adjustments.
Did your work hours change right after you set a daily running schedule? Don’t ditch your plans, just revise them and keep going!
- State Your Goals Out Loud
Telling others about your great resolutions and ambitious goals isn’t boasting. It witnesses your positive intentions and boosts self-esteem. But here’s an important thing to remember: Tell them what you are doing rather than what you plan to do.
Human beings, being who they are, tend to argue or unwittingly say negative things that may hurt your progress or, worse, kill your motivation if you listen to them. They can’t say you can’t if you already are doing it!
- Honor Your Present Self
In your efforts to make a new you, don’t forget the old you who is trying to keep up. If you force yourself to do something or be someone you have not yet learned or trained yourself to be, failure is inevitable. Start from where you are.
- Reframe for Reward
Instead of resolving to get a “better paying job,”, for example, reframe the resolution into something more aligned with your truest desires.
“I want to work in a beautiful city,” or “I want to work in the outdoors on a river,” gives your brain a happy pursuit instead of a chore to avoid.
- Focus on Feeling States
Chances of success are much greater when you go for positive ‘feeling’ states and experiences that trigger your brain’s pleasure center rather than changing behaviors.
Let’s say you want to lose weight. The moment your fingers are writing the resolution and your eyes are reading the words “lose weight,” your brain is going into deprivation mode and secret panic sets in. Because you ‘know’ losing weight means less enjoyment of food, you are already subconsciously sabotaging your goal.
If you redirect your focus from thinking you have too much weight to wanting to feel fit and energetic in your body, you’ll instantly signal a happier and more loving intention to your brain that it wants to embrace.
Instead of making 2014 the year of being a different person, turn it into the year of being who you really are!