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14 Tips For Resolutions That Stick in the New Year

14 Tips For Resolutions That Stick in the New Year
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    Statistics show that only about 15% of New Years Resolutions are kept. With an 85% failure rate, it’s no wonder that the amount of resolutions made is dropping. You wouldn’t buy a product that is defective 85% of the time, so why buy into the annual hype about resolutions? A strategy that fails over four fifths of the time is broken. The question is, how do you fix it?

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    Most resolutions come in the form of habit changes. Quitting smoking, hitting the gym and staying organized are all based on routine habits. I’ve spent the last few years changing habits. Training myself to become organized, exercise regularly, eat healthy, wake up early and work productively.

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    Resolutions Require Strategy, Not Willpower

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    I believe that most New Years Resolutions fail because people approach them incorrectly. Instead of developing a strategy for changing habits, most people try to rely on willpower. While willpower and motivation can get you through the first week or two, it can’t last forever.

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    With the right strategy, however, you can make habit changes a success. There is no perfect formula, but after changing dozens of habits in myself over the last few years, I can offer a few suggestions:

    1. Create a Trigger. A trigger is a specific ritual you perform whenever you get a particular cue. This ritual focuses you on performing your habit, rather than sliding into old vices. Snapping your fingers when you feel the temptation to smoke; jumping out of bed at the sound of your alarm or repeating, “do it now!” to yourself are all triggers designed to kick your habit off. Practice your trigger and it will become automatic, overriding your default behaviors.
    2. Replace Lost Needs. Most habits fulfill a purpose of some kind, even if the side-effects are negative. You might watch television to relax, even if you have other things you would rather do. You might eat junk food to feel full, even if it isn’t healthy. Consider what you are giving up in your habit change and make an effort to replace those lost needs.
    3. Write It in Ink. A commitment inside your head isn’t a commitment at all. Keep a binder where you can store written commitments for habit changes. Not only will writing reinforce a promise to yourself, it will clarify your thinking as to what exactly you want to change.
    4. Commit for a Month. Resolve to stick to your change for at least thirty days. Less than this and you are likely to fall back into old habits. Three to four weeks is all it takes to condition a new habit.
    5. Keep a Journal. Open up a new word document and commit to writing a few sentences each day about your progress. I’ve found this method helpful in reminding me about my commitment and helping me focus on the change I want to make.
    6. Increase Positive Feedback. If you reward a behavior, it will increase. Punish a behavior and it will be reduced. This feedback mechanism is common to all animals with a nervous system from sea slugs to human beings. If your new habit makes you feel worse than the old habits, it can’t last.
    7. Strategic Enjoyment. One way to create more positive feedback is to structure your habit so it becomes more fun. Going to the gym isn’t the only way to exercise if you hate it. Eating tofu isn’t the only meal option for vegetarians. Look for ways you can make a new habit more enjoyable.
    8. Think Years, Not Months. A diet that consists of grapefruit and water isn’t going to provide nutritional needs to last your whole life. Work on creating changes to your diet, work, exercise or routines that can be sustained for years. Crash diets and 18-hour workdays will eventually break.
    9. If You Slip Up, Start Over. I consider a habit change complete when I can go thirty consecutive days. If you slip up and break your habit on the 3rd, 15th, or 27th day, start over. This keeps you from cheating on days with the excuse that you will resume the day afterwards.
    10. Behavior First, Results Later. Don’t let watching the scale or your bank account discourage you when trying to change a habit. The correct change in behavior has to come before any results start to appear. Focusing too much on losing weight, working less or being rich and throw off your attempts to form good habits.
    11. One Habit at a Time. Don’t tackle several changes at once. Successfully conditioning one habit change is more useful than giving up on a half dozen changes after a month.
    12. Learn From Mistakes. This one is pretty obvious, but it’s surprising how many people when they fail to make a change, go back to using the exact same strategy. Figure out why you failed previously, and don’t be too quick to blame willpower.
    13. Consistency Counts. A habit that is performed the same way, at the same time and under the same conditions every day for a month will be reinforced far more strongly than one that changes throughout the week. Be consistent and you can spend less time reinforcing a habit.
    14. Create a Habits List. When I started changing habits I created a list of all the changes I would like to make. Each month I’d pick one change and focus on it until I could cross it off the list. This method can focus your enthusiasm so you don’t take on too much or too little.

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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