The best way to keep New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions: many of us kick off the new year with resolutions. Including the intention to keep them. But research shows that we are more likely to quite half way or sometimes even before getting started. It also shows that there is one specific reason why this happens. And is similar for everyone. As soon as you know this reason, you will no longer forget it and will already be one step closer to realizing your new year’s resolutions. With this blog you will learn that specific reason and increase your changes of accomplishing your New Year’s resolutions with ease.

New Year’s Resolutions Facts

The top five most common New Year’s resolutions are losing weight, eating healthier, quit smoking, exercise more and taking it easy. Of the group of people who start on New Year’s Day with one of these resolutions, 83% think they will certainly succeed. In the end only 17% does. Studies show January is the least successful month to start with New Year’s resolutions compared to the month August. Which has the highest success rate. Men have a higher percentage of succeeding then women. One explanation could be that women make plans that are more difficult to maintain. For example, they choose to worry less, while men want to exercise twice as often as women. With all genders the brain plays a most important role. As succeeding your New Year’s resolutions depends on the intrinsic motivation which can only be found in the brain. 

Everlasting motivation

The definition of motivation is what drives an individual to certain behaviour. It is a mix of innate properties, culture and environment. Motivation ensures that you move and act accordingly. The great thing is that we all have enough motivation to sustain our New Year’s resolutions. But the countless temptations from your environment make it a challenge to stay motivated. Until you start thinking differently.

New Year’s resolutions: danger is around the corner

Your brain is designed to avoid temporary danger. And is not designed to perceive happiness in the longer term. As soon as your brain suspects that the sense of happiness is “under attack”, it immediately produces all kinds of arguments why you shouldn’t do what you have intended. As a result, we like our bad habits more than our New Year’s resolutions. Luckily there is a very simple and effective tool that you can use to changes the brain’s definition of temporary danger. 

Warning: this paragraph is difficult

Words have a lot of influence on our thoughts and thoughts that dominate our behaviour, determine our behaviour. If you have been guided by the title above this paragraph, there is a good chance that you will skip this paragraph or only read it partly because the word “difficult” is in the headline. The brain interprets that as danger. Counter-arguments is an effective way to train the brain by shifting its focus. In fact, if you consistently use counter-arguments, the well-known switch will be made and your brain will stimulate you by presenting arguments that you should do it instead of not. The reason why counter-arguments work is explained in the next paragraph.

No more obstacles that hold you back

By using other words you do not experience any obstacles that hold you back or slow you down. This makes it easier to deal with temptations and you gain happiness from what you do. And everything you do with more happiness, produces more results. Examples of counterarguments: “I can’t do it.” – “I can.” “I don’t have time for it.” – “I make time for it.” | “It’s not fun.” – “It increases my sense of happiness.” Now you may think that the brain is that one specific reason why so many of us are unable to uphold New Year’s resolutions. But that’s not it. Your brain certainly plays an important role, but is not the deciding factor.

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The deciding factor: what you definitely need to succeed

The reason why many do not realize their New Year’s resolutions is because the intention is not concrete enough. And that makes it difficult to maintain. If it is not clear which steps are needed to realize your resolution, it simply will not work because your brain immediately sees that as a danger. You can come up with as many counter-arguments as possible, but if the intention is not concrete, the counter-arguments will not be effective. What does work is your notebook.

Take out your notebook

A New Year’s resolutions is actually a new habit. And it takes three month before a new routine such as a resolution becomes a complimentary habit. You need a thorough step-by-step plan if you want to succeed. It just won’t work without it. The more concrete your intention is, the greater the chance of success. A step-by-step plan does not have to be an epistle of 20 pages. But investing a few minutes in yourself to write down a good step-by-step-plan will definitely help to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions.

Blueprint: this step-by-step plan will always works

Consider the following: the more concrete your intention is, the greater the chance of success. “I am going to lose weight” is not specific enough and therefore will not succeed. Making it concrete means that you write down in detail what you want to achieve. Again, writing it down doesn’t have to be a long story, but writing a few lines certainly doesn’t hurt. Write down how you are going to do it; step by step. As an example:

  • I will eat healthier and start eating one piece of fruit every day between 7 a.m. and noon. I will do this for four weeks (state the start and end date). The fruit that I eat is different every day and varies between the following seven fruits: apple, pear, banana, kiwi, orange, grapes and blueberries. Make a weekly schedule and note the fruit-week menu for your next four weeks in your (digital) calendar.

By investing time in the beginning as to why you want something and how you will realize it, the chance of success increases enormously. So put in time before you start and before you know it, you will be part of the 17%-group who keep their New Year’s resolutions.

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