The secret to keeping your New Year's resolutions
The new year is here with its promise of new starts, new adventures and new achievements. Half of us adults make new year’s resolutions. Losing weight, exercising more, stopping smoking cigarettes and sorting out those finances are some of the most common resolutions. 1 in 12, however, don’t manage to keep these (Statistic Brain Research Institute 2017).
Why is that? What makes us not stick to these wonderful resolutions that we know will improve our lives?
Psychology lecturers Rachel Grieve and Catherine Lang from University of Tasmania talk about self-efficacy. They believe this is the crux to keeping these new year’s resolutions; when you believe in our own ability to perform an action you are rich in self-efficacy, which is needed if you want to attempt any change in your life and believe you can push it through. So how can we get more of this self-efficacy and get the score going up with keeping to those new year’s resolutions?
One thing at a time
To make a change in your behaviour you need to take it a step at a time. It’s all about the small wins and one goal at a time. Writing down all the things you want to accomplish is great as long as you know you won’t be working on all of them at the same time. It’s about picking the most important from the list or working on a select few. Start with one goal and then grow your list once you see yourself making progress. And every time you succeed in moving closer to your goal even if it is a small win you will feel more confident in yourself and your self-efficacy score will go up. Once you have chosen the most important goal to work on ask yourself: What are the steps I need to take to accomplish my goal?
Psychology lecturers Rachel Grieve and Catherine Lang believe the reason people don’t stick to their NY resolutions is that they take on too many and many times unrealistic goals. They seem to give up because they have miscalculated the amount of effort or time that goes into achieving a goal and crucially haven’t planned this out properly to help them succeed and help themselves keep motivated through the journey. Like any goal we seem to think our life goals should come easy and thus we haphazardly plan for them instead of creating a detailed action plan, as we are more likely to be expected to do at work.
If more exercise is your New Year’s resolution you need to check that your goal is a SMART goal. Is it specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound? ‘More exercise’ is not a smart goal and won’t make achieving your goal easier, if at all possible. The more specific the goal the better. For example; ’ I want to go running Monday and Wednesday at 6.30 pm and run 15 minutes oscillating between 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking’, now that is a smart goal. Think about your goal this coming year and make it smart.
Once your goal is SMART, you need to check that you are not scared off by a goal you do want but that looks too big to achieve. This might discourage you from moving forward or even attempting to tackle the goal. If your goal, for example, is to complete a 10km run, once you have bought your new neon trainers and sweat band, make sure you also take the next smart & small step by walking to the local corner shop in them and back. Especially if exercise hasn’t been your norm your expectations need to be realistic and achievable to help yourself succeed. So, start small. It’s important to make sure that the next small step is also taken for that consistency and growing your own self-efficacy talked about earlier. The next day continue, move up a notch and walk a bit further and so on until you swap the walk for a jog to the corner shop or around the block and then do the increase gradually until you arrive where you want to be. Like any skill self-belief in achievement can be built and allowing yourself to start with little steps will help you see your own progress (motivation), grow in your belief you can do it and move forward with your goals.
Sometimes we believe we can’t accomplish something because we haven’t attempted it before. This is the time to remind yourself of the times you have accomplished something, maybe in a different area but nevertheless an accomplishment. What accomplishments are you proud of? How can you use your previous experience to accomplish the goals you have for next year?
Friends are there to encourage us on our adventures. We are all smart individuals who know the pitfalls and pro’s of our aspirations and so does our brain. Our brains are wired to protects us and are more likely to focus on all the pitfalls there are. We don’t need more fuel in that department. What we do need is support, encouragement, love, constructive feedback once asked, help with planning strategies on how to get where we want to go. Not discouragement. Make sure you know who is on your team.
Who has achieved what you are about to embark on (or keep working on)? Find out about how they made it. Don‘t select the world’s best in the field to copy at first, find someone who is a few steps ahead of you. This is far more realistic for your mind/brain and will enable you to select action steps that you can do now and see the progress quicker. This in return motivates and encourages you to see that you got this. But do read about those who are wildly successful they have a lot to teach us. They too have once had to start, be really bad at it and push themselves to grow step by step. Everybody has been a beginner once.
Wishing you a wonderful New Year 2018, filled with finding and following your flow, one step at a time!
Sending you big love &
a big hug;
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About Petra Tourunen
Petra Tourunen is a career & confidence coach - the Flow Styler. She specialises in empowering women &lawyers to find their career passion &purpose back. Women who are 'this close' to quitting their job &helps them to find & follow their flow, find back their direction, work/life balance & create a successful career around their potential&passion.