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Why Some People Can Always Stick to Their New Year Resolution throughout the Year

Why Some People Can Always Stick to Their New Year Resolution throughout the Year

Last week I spoke at a business lunch about the reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail and how to overcome these roadblocks to success.

I asked the audience these questions:

How many of you set New Year’s Resolutions?
One person raised their hand, I then asked

How many people set Goals?
The response was almost unanimous, everyone set goals.

My reaction was to tell them that goals and resolutions were the same thing. That maybe New Year’s Resolution needed a re branding exercise to help us see that setting resolutions is the same as setting goals.

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The following evening at a similar event, I spoke to a group of people whose goals for 2013 were predominately to get organized and clear the clutter from their lives. Again we spoke about New Years Resolutions and Goals.

new year resolution

    On my drive home I realized that I had made a mistake, that I shouldn’t be telling people that Resolutions are the same as goals. Even though resolutions are a type of goal they are in fact very different and should be treated differently.

    The majority of people who set New Year’s Resolutions set one of the following.

    1. To Exercise More
    2. To Eat Less
    3. To Stop Smoking (or another unhealthy habit)
    4. To Eat Healthy
    5. To Learn something new (languages, music etc)

    And although these may appear on the outside to be normal goals, they are all a particular type of goal. They all require a new habit to be formed. I realized that in order for people to stick to their New Year’s Resolutions and achieve their goals, they had to understand that what they attempted to achieve included the adoption of a new habit.

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    By understanding this difference, New Year’s Resolutions can be approached in a manner that will support their acquisition and your personal success.

    How do we make our New Year Resolution last throughout the year?

    By understanding what is required to achieve your goal and what new habit can help you achieve it you are more likely to get what you want. It is also important to understand how new habits are formed and how to ensure these new habits remain.
    Below are some tips to help you create the new habits that will ensure you stick to your New Year’s Resolutions this year

    Be clear about what you want to achieve

    Goal: To Lose weight
    New Habit required: The habit of regular exercise

    Goal: To write a book
    New Habit Required: The habit of writing

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    Goal: To Eliminate Debt
    New Habit Required: The habit of budgeting

    One at a time

    Many people fail with New Year’s Resolutions because they try too much too soon. Try one new habit at a time to gain from the power of single focus.

    Start Small

    Make the change little by little, want to run a 10K don’t attempt it on the first day. The best advice I ever got was that ten minutes a day can write a book. When the task doesn’t seem so overwhelming you are more likely to keep it up. Better to do ten minutes a day of yoga than an hour a week. Small and regular is better than big and irregular!

    Use a Trigger

    If you are creating a new habit do it at the same time everyday, if you want to start running in the morning, create a morning routine so that you do the same thing every morning. Our brains function better with routine, get out of bed, go to the bathroom and put on your running shoes.

    Accountability Buddy

    Research shows that percentage of successful resolutions increases hugely when you are accountable to someone. We give ourselves a break far too often but when we have to do something for someone else it’s more likely to happen.

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    Forgive yourself

    My favorite quote this year “It doesn’t matter if you fall down what matters is how long you stay on the floor” Very few people are successful 100% of the time, failure is part of life. Accept that, forgive yourself and move on.

    Motivation

    When you motivation fades, remind yourself why you want to create the new habit, how will your life be different if you achieve what you set out to achieve? Connecting with the reasons why will motivate you to keep going. And if your reasons why don’t motivate you anymore maybe you should try something new!

    Featured photo credit:  Athlete running on the road in morning sunrise training for marathon and fitness. Healthy active lifestyle latino woman exercising outdoors via Shutterstock

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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