Statistics show that only 8% of us manage to achieve our New Year resolutions. The fact that this number is so low suggests that there’s something making this challenge difficult. The odds are stacked against us from the start.
Long term change can be hard. If it was easy to change our behaviour, we’d all be doing it all the time. We are creatures of habit, and although that New Year January buzz gives us a little extra motivation, it doesn’t last forever and inevitably we’re left with the same familiar struggles.
It doesn’t have to be like this. There are skills we can learn that improve the chances of successful behaviour change. Here are just a few.
Concentrate on the present
It can be hard to try and change your personality overnight. If you’ve had a few setbacks, forget about the past and concentrate on today. Try not to look too far ahead either. Large goals like “lose weight” or “stop stressing” can be so vague or vast that we give up by February.
Try to keep your goals more manageable and take smaller steps towards them. For example, commit to going to the gym today, or taking a yoga class tonight.
Once we’ve set our mind to something we are always keen to see results, but progress is seldom fast or linear. We all have our ups and downs and it’s our resilience and ability to get back on track after setbacks that ensure success. We can all learn to be more resilient in the face of failure. Try to avoid ‘all-or-nothing’ thinking, small steps are better than nothing.
We all have a tendency to go into things full steam ahead in January when motivation is high. In order to carry on into February and beyond it may be necessary to slow the pace slightly. Slower change is often longer lasting so it’s worth taking your time. Treat yourself every so often and reward your accomplishments to keep yourself on track.
Mix things up
As time goes on you’ll want to ensure you don’t get bored with routines that seemed fresh and exciting in January. Keep mixing things up. Try a new class at the gym or cook some new healthy recipes. Get out and meet some new people that might be able to support you. Don’t get stuck in a rut and let boredom ruin your chances.
If you think about it, the ’old’ you is the one who has developed this unwanted behaviour. They are stuck in their ways. They have multiple reasons not to change and other competing commitments fighting for time and resources. You can’t always change alone, you may need a helping hand.
I’ve helped many clients make changes in their lives that they never thought they’d be able to achieve. It’s not just about willpower and motivation, our habits often give us comfort, relieve loneliness or distract us from inner conflicts. This can be very hard to change without addressing the root problem or replacing these habits with more positive coping mechanisms.
If you’d like to talk to me about your own New Year’s resolutions and how I can support you with them please do get in touch.