As we begin another year, there is often a sense of hope for an improved version of what has gone on before. Creating New Years resolutions to make your life better has become a tradition in many parts of the world.
Some New Years Resolution stats:
Top 5 New Years resolutions for 2014
1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
Percentage of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions 45%
Percentage of people who are successful in achieving their resolution 8%
How is that working for you? Are you one of the 8%? Or not?
The thing is, the mechanics of our brain create predictable roadblocks to achieving those New Years resolutions. So, what can you do about it? Implement the 3 following tips based on the psychology of excellence:
Add WHY to your WHAT
- A key survival strategy in our instinctual brain is the conservation of energy… that’s right, being lazy is an instinct when not under survival pressure. To overcome survival laziness in going after WHAT you want, it helps to find multiple big reasons WHY you want to achieve your goal. Want to lose weight? Yes, do it because you want to feel healthier… but reach further: Because it will inspire your kids or your loved ones. Because it enables you to go skiing with your grandkids 10 years from now. Because it means you will have more energy every day to achieve your career and financial goals. Because it will help you complete your bucket list… and so on.
TO DO: Write down the WHAT (result) and the all the big WHYs (reasons) you can think of. Read them every morning to get you jumping out of bed and into action.
Measure your progress by ACTION not results
- Results don’t create results. Actions do. Get your actions right and the results will take care of themselves. Problem is, most people only measure progress by the results. If you have a good action plan (helps to get some input from an expert), the behavioural science of change tells you to expect more failure than success at the early stages of your journey. The challenge is that failure also triggers the laziness instinct. The key is to measure your progress by how well you have stuck to your plan. In the weight loss example, not getting results early on can be discouraging, especially when you are not celebrating your actions. Sometimes, we also get short term results from the wrong actions, which can do more damage in the long term.
TO DO: Acknowledge yourself daily and reward yourself weekly for completing your action plan. Enjoy the results when they come, but remind yourself that the actions are what got you there.
Take BREAKS at the right time
- The best athletes in the world have learned that disciplined recovery, scheduled time out from their busy training regimens, is as important to achieving their Olympic sized goals as the training itself. Many of us, however, have been programmed to think that more is always better; and although big goals do demand big effort, creating personal downtime that re-charges you daily and weekly is essential to maintaining the energy required to stay in action.
TO DO: Schedule 30min in every working day to do something enjoyable and relaxing just for you. Plan for at least a half to a whole day of the weekend to be without work or other stressors.