How to stick to your New Year Resolution:

You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems

– James Clear

So again another year is coming to an end signifying start of a new year or to be precise,a decade. New year,new you,right? Well,not exactly so. Only 9.2 % of people ever achieve their new year resolution. New year can’t magically improve your life since you can’t run away from who you are or have been all year long. You will have to face your own short coming and bad habits. Timing for your change is arbitrary. It doesn’t depend on the new year. It may be due to your hopelessness over the direction your life is heading towards. Unless you want to confront or change them they will stick to you. You won’t really have a sudden limitless discipline or stress free schedule.

Unlike a new day,new year holds certain psychological significance. Although we are aware of the fact that dates are just arbitrary markers,we still feel 1st January is special. It symbolises new beginning. This stimulates our motivation temporarily. You can utilise this inspiration as a temporary boost that you won’t stick to or as a tool to start building long term habits. Take the initial inspiration to get started. Don’t depend on the motivation to help you get through the process.

We need to have grit – the passion and perseverance for very long term goals. We need the stamina to stick with future day-in and day-out and not just a single day or week. We have to work diligently towards our desired future self considering the journey to be a marathon and not a sprint. Following are the ways you can try sticking to your New year’s resolutions this year.

1. Create proper Goals:

Most of us are terrible at creating goals. We come up with goals which are unsustainable,unrealistic and doomed to fail. We need to follow a SMART(Specific,Measurable, Achievable, Result oriented,Time bound) rule for creating our goal.

  • Specific: Rather than “read more books”, try “read 21 pages of a nonfiction book at noon”.
  • Measurable: Rather than “lose weight”,try ” lose 1 pound in 5 days by eating low calorie food and green veggies.
  • Achievable: Rather than ” 50 pushups everyday”,try ” 5 pushups for a week and eventually increasing the number of pushups by 5 each week.
  • Result oriented: Rather than “avoid social media”,go for ” track my usage or time invested in social and restrict it for half an hour per day.”
  • Time bound: Rather than “Learn to play a brain game”,go for “Learn to play chess within a month”.

2. Get started now:

Not sure which habits to start off with? Here are the 20 habits for lifetime.

Even if January 1st hasn’t come around,the anticipation of new year itself is powerful. You don’t necessarily need to wait till the date arrives. Give this a thought – if you don’t have time to exercise for 30 minutes now,how will you have the same on January 1st? You’ll confront same limitations if you don’t take drastic actions against them. Use the time and resources you have right now and follow up with the pattern.

3. Start small with a Keystone Habit:

Setting small attainable goals throughout the year ,instead of a singular overwhelming goal on Jan 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for.

Psychologist Lynn Bufka,PhD

As explained by Charles Duhigg in his book ‘Power of Habit’,focus on a Keystone habit that results in a domino effect aligning multiple other areas in your life. Small incremental improvements are more likely than dramatic shifts to result in the desired outcome. Figure out what your own keystone habit is and drive your concentration and energy there. If you’re not into work out right now, schedule to exercise for 1 day every week. Starting with a week based of small scale resolution is a chance to prove to yourself that you can stick to it. This makes the process real,thus it’s not possible to turn around. Too many goals and too few systems in place causes trouble to implement and sustain a habit.

4. Self compassion:

You need to accept that you’re gonna slip up or miss a day in conducting the habit. The important part is what you do about it. Instead of beating yourself up,make sure that you’re not skipping a habit in a 2 days row. Because that’s when you start procrastinating and find it difficult to restart. If you get discouraged, give up,revert to your old days,then you failed. But if you know that bumps are inevitable in the way and get back up and reevaluate your system and strengthen it,it will be easier for you to stick to the habit. Don’t feel pressured to implement systems only in the starting of the year. You can start at any time of the year.

5. Track Your Progress:

Researches show,keeping a food diary doubles the chances of weight loss. Therefore,while keeping track,when you don’t have ability to follow a particular topic,you’ll feel you rely on the feeling of accomplishment of the habit. So it’s likely that you won’t skip the habit.

6. Seek support:

Fill your social media feeds with people who have already achieved what you’re up to. Talk about your perception of changing habits. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals such as a workout class at your gym or a group of co-workers quitting smoking. This process of habit building is easier and less intimidating.

7. Reward yourself:

Rewarding yourself for small achievements will help you to stick to and master the habits enthusiastically. Don’t be harsh on yourself and be your own cheerleader.

Lastly,”it’s not the extent if the change that matters,but rather the act of recognising that lifestyle change is important and working towards it,one step at a time.” Don’t get carried away in the self congratulatory behavior of setting resolutions and instead focus on implementing the processes that will in long term help you reap the results that you seek.

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