How to (Finally!) Make Those New Year’s Resolutions Stick
It really is time to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new!
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you know what that means?
Probably not quite what you’re thinking.
According to the Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy, 92% of people who made New Year’s resolutions will have quit or forgotten about them by that day. Are you one of them? If so, it seems you have plenty of company.
So, what gives? Why can’t we stick to our resolutions? After all, most of us want to be healthier and happier in life. And it’s not like there’s a lack of information on how to do both of those things, so what’s the problem?
The issue lies in our beliefs about ourselves and what we feel capable and deserving of. And the sad truth is that most people, deep down on some level, don’t believe themselves capable or worthy of change. As a result, while we may have the best of intentions, we base our resolutions on who we already are rather than who we want to become.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to lose weight, eat healthier, and regularly exercise. That’s the person that you want to be, but that is not the person that you currently are. Perhaps the person that you currently are is one who either sleeps until the very last minute she can before being late for work and then stops at a coffee shop for a large cup of morning energy and a muffin. or who arrives home from work with takeout for the family and then settles down for an evening of Netflix before going to bed and doing the same thing the next day.
However, continuing to engage in those same activities keeps us in the current version of ourselves, and one with which we’re unhappy. If our goal is to eat healthier and exercise regularly then we need to become that person. After all, if you were already that person, then the resolution wouldn’t be necessary.
How do we change this?
In sticking with the above example, we need to ask ourselves a question and then we must follow the answer:
- What does a person who eats healthy and regularly exercise do?
Answer: she’s researched and follows a dietary lifestyle that works for her body, and she engages in some form of exercise most days of the week.
It may sound simplistic, and it is. And it isn’t.
The challenge lies in combating those limiting beliefs that reside in our subconscious mind and runs 95% of our lives. As Bruce Lipton, PhD. describes in his wonderful book, The Biology of Belief, this is the system that thinks and acts purely out of habit and the programming we’d received in the first seven years of our lives.
So, if we want to change the habits of being a couch potato eating mainly processed foods, then we need to consistently make different choices in how we think and act if we want to become newer, improved versions of ourselves.
But we can’t change what we’re unaware of, and this is where mindfulness practices come in. Mindfulness is the act of being present and aware to our thoughts, behaviors, and surroundings without judgement. It’s safe to say that, in general, we’re living in a pretty mindless culture as our attention is often drawn to social media, our to-do lists, what’s going on in the world, and just being caught up with the tens of thousands of other thoughts, most of them negative and repetitive, going through our heads.
If we’re resolving to make changes, we need to become aware of the thoughts and behaviors that are keeping us in the version of ourselves that we want to discard and then begin actively creating new habits that move us towards the version that we want to become.
While I am a huge fan of meditation, you don’t have to meditate in order to become more mindful, though it can be a huge help. Just setting a timer on your phone or making it a point to have certain events, such as mealtimes or leaving work, trigger you to check in with what you’re thinking and doing can be a good place to start and can go a long way. Once you’ve checked in, you then have the option to choose how you want to think and act from that moment on. You then have the option to step into the newer version of yourself in whatever form you’d like that to take.
Just because it’s February doesn’t mean that you can’t dust off those forgotten resolutions and begin anew. There’s still plenty of time to end 2020 by being the healthier, happier version of you!
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