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Resolution Re-boot

Just two short months ago, 20% of us promised to live a healthier lifestyle and lose those extra pounds we gained at Christmas. 12.3% promised to work on making life improvements, and 8.5% of the population vowed to work on their bank figure. With that being said, more than 58% of us make new year’s resolutions each year. So why do only 8% of us feel that we have achieved our resolution by the time December comes around?

Timothy Pychyl, psychology professor at Carleton University in Canada, argues that although resolutions are made in effort for one to reinvent themselves, people aren’t ready to change their habits, as otherwise, they would have created a resolution on any day of the year. Sure, new year can be used as a way to motivate oneself, but quite often, we tend to make unrealistic goals and expectations to reach, as Dr. Avya Sharma explains.

The Clever Bit

No matter what, we know that quite often, new year’s resolutions do not stick, and so it’s been thought we must essentially ‘re-wire’ our brains in order for our aims to be more successful. Recent research has shown that habitual behaviour is created when thinking patterns, that create neural pathways and memories, become the default when one is faced with a choice or decision. Therefore, when we try to change our default patterns by ‘just not doing it’, it is, in effect, strengthening it.

Re-wiring

So how can the average Joe just ‘re-wire’ their habitual circuits, to make those resolutions stick?! We’ve drafted up some points to stick by:

  • Focus on just one resolution rather than several. Re-wiring too many circuits will just make you go a bit mad. Try making small changes, little by little.
  • Set realistic and specific goals. It’s important to make sure you know when you’ve hit that target and to reward yourself along the way!
  • Make it a process. By creating ‘targets’ along the way, you can review where you are doing well, or where you can improve. This will also boost your motivation as the overall resolution will not seem so daunting.
  • Take small steps. Many people quit too quickly, because the goal they’ve set is too big of a leap at once. Remember, you can always amend your resolution – it’s not etched in stone!
  • Have a buddy help you out. Working with a pal has been proven to be beneficial in all areas of life. It boosts happiness levels and reduces neuroticism. By having a friend motivate you when you need a ‘pick-me-up’, and a solid support system, you’re more likely to succeed.
  • Celebrate your successes in milestones. Make sure to reward yourself every now and then. This doesn’t mean to necessarily break your new habitual circuit though! Buy a new pair of jeans to celebrate your weight loss, or a night out with friends to feel good, whatever rocks your boat.
  • Focus your thinking. By concentrating on new behaviours and thought patterns, you’ll be able to train your brain to pick up those habits as if it were second nature.
  • Focus on the present. Think about one thing you can do each day towards your goal. It might be to take the stairs, to tidy your desk, or get an early night. By dwelling on the past, your brain will find it harder to distinguish on how to move on.
  • Be mindful and become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state. A happy mind is a successful one too!

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