Losing Steam on New Year's Resolutions?
Feb 01, 2019 03:16PM
By Alexia Taylor Eichman
The brain is hard-wired to resist change. It wants to relax and wallow in familiar routines, which is why it is so difficult to change a habit.
Shifting routines into different choices can be painful. Anyone that has embraced the decision to make change is solidly in the action phase of the stages of change. Usually the anticipation of embracing new directions is enough to carry someone past the first few days, but after a few weeks the excitement has worn off and it becomes far easier to justify dropping the idea and reverting to old habits. Many people may have done well with their resolutions in January but fall off the wagon in February. So, what to do?
Anticipate the situations that will lead to failure Sure, it’s easy to embrace change when things are relaxed, but what happens when someone is tired and stressed? Instead of pretending that life is always perfect, plan for stressful moments before they happen.
Connect to positive emotional motivators
Begin with the statement, “It is important to make this change because…” It isn’t enough to try to lose weight in order to obey a doctor’s orders. However, being able to run around with a beloved grandchild is a very strong positive attractor. Going to the gym because other people do it? Not a compelling reason; but getting stronger to be able to go dancing, or horseback riding, or skiing or traveling, is much more exciting and rewarding.
Make goals public
Scientists know that accountability keeps people on track. Having a friend check in and provide support or encouragement can keep us moving toward goals. Setting up a system of accountability and support sidesteps much of the rationalizing that can de-rail a goal.
Reward small successes
People like to pretend that behavior can be changed by the idea of one big reward, but it doesn’t work that way. Having small rewards along the way is something to look forward to and keeps the momentum going.
Build the tools to stay on track
Create a vision board or an audio recording of positive affirmations. It’s all about creating a reminder of the reasons and hope for a different way. Think like an engineer: work toward a goal in small, realistic steps. Measure and track progress. Adjust expectations and methods if the progress gets off track.
If it seems like more help is needed, reach out to a professional
Coaches are experts in the art of change. Working with a professional gives people the space and support to follow through on all the concepts outlined above, but it also engages the help of someone that does this every day. Coaches are an invaluable resource for new ideas and hacks that can turn a failed resolution into success. People are more successful when working with a coach because they have “put their money where their mouth is.” It is a deeper, more complete level of commitment. And coaching offers people insight and perspective that can be difficult to achieve when working alone.
A coach can offer ideas for ways of improvement, and they can help people become aware of their blind spots. Having a coach gives the individual a safe place to go and talk through sensitive issues and see the bigger picture. Coaching helps people gain perspective without feeling intimidated.
Don’t get discouraged. Re-focus and re-engage to turn that resolution into an achievement.