Sticking with Your New Year’s Resolution
Much like promises and young hearts, New Year’s resolutions were made to be broken. Whether you are trying to stop smoking, lose weight, or change your general outlook or attitude, most people are unable to maintain their commitment through January, much less keep their resolutions through the year we’ve had. It’s just not that simple to make a drastic alteration in your daily life based on sheer willpower. After all, temptation can be overwhelmingly strong during the long days at home, especially if you’re trying to break an unhealthy habit. These behaviors are familiar to us, and even though they damage us in the long run, they’ve been comforting in the immediate present.
All that said, it’s not impossible to make and keep a New Year’s resolution. Regardless of what people say, we can change, but we have to actually want to. It’s more than simply recognizing a negative behavior and making a prompt decision to cease that behavior in the moment. Instead, successfully executing a resolution requires a great deal of planning, resolve, persistence, and patience. We’re ready to put the whirlwind of 2020 behind, so we’re encouraging starting your resolutions early. If you’re really serious this time about making some substantial changes, follow the tips below and check back in with us in the new year!
Flex Your Willpower
Most of us usually think of willpower as the inner resolve that people either have or don’t. However, research into the topic would seem to contradict that viewpoint and instead propose that willpower can be strengthened over time like a muscle.
In a study at the University of Albany – State University of New York, 27% of individuals who were able to strengthen their self-control through different exercises (e.g. avoiding sweets) were able to successfully quit smoking, compared with just 12% of those individuals who didn’t practice extra resolve.
Therefore, if you want to adhere to your resolution, it might be smart to work out your willpower regularly. For instance, you could purchase a grip strengthener and gradually increase the length of your tightest grip over time. Another good exercise is to reward yourself for you minor successes. So if you’re trying to lose weight, make sure that you allow yourself a cheat day once a week.
In order for your resolution to become a tangible reality, you need to transform your habits, even those that are seemingly unrelated. Eliminating your previous habits and establishing new ones requires a great deal of self-awareness and perseverance, but it can be achieved if you remain strong.
One great way to create new habits to begin relying on ritual. This means creating and adhering to a new schedule of events that will eventually reprogram your mindset to expect certain things at certain times. For instance, if your resolution involves losing weight, you should be eating your meals at the same time every day. You should also be executing the same exercises at the same time in the same location to establish routine and ritual.
There are consequences for every action we take in life, and this is no less true when it comes to sticking to a New Year’s resolution. Whenever you are struggling and thinking about reverting to a previous behavior, you need to consider how doing so will affect your future self – both in the short term and in the long run. You’re clearly altering your lifestyle to create healthier you, and giving in to your temptation will only cause regret and anxiety in the immediate present and a chance at full-blown relapse in the future.
When you project into the future, you can honestly appraise how your behaviors will affect your emotional status. Sure, that cigarette might be delicious and satisfying for five minutes or so, but the instant you put that cancer stick out, a sense of failure is likely going to kick in. However, if you are able to abstain, your resolution suddenly becomes more of a reality and you can begin to imagine yourself as a non-smoker in the future.
With almost any resolution, results aren’t going to come overnight, which likely means that you might be prone to moments of failure. There’s nothing wrong with that. No one is perfect, and expecting too much of yourself often leads to abandoning your goals altogether. The goal should be progress rather than perfection.
If you become discouraged or slip into negative behaviors or emotions, you have to remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and begin strengthening your resolve. Get back into your routine and begin creating more positive habits to avoid slipping in the future. The longer you have between slips will galvanize your new behavior and move you closer to the person you want to be. Remain confident, but don’t get too cocky. It’s not enough to achieve your resolution; you have to maintain it.