10 Top Tips to Succeed With Your New Year's Resolution.
It's the start of a new year and with that comes the opertunity to reevaluate our goals but lets face it new years resoltions aren't exaxtly known for being something that you stick to past the first few weeks, so I have put together 10 top tips from my perspective as a psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist to help you have the best chance of succeeding this time around.
1. Make it positive
You can’t not think of something, so when you tell yourself that your goal is to stop eating chocolate, your mind must think about chocolate to process what you do not want to do…and we all know how that’s going to end. It is a bit of a cliché, but if I told you that you categorically, under no circumstances, must not think of a bright yellow sunflower, my bet is that one popped into your head, even if just for a moment. By making your goal positive, you can focus on just what you want. For example, to only eat healthy snacks in between meals.
2. Make is achievable/track your progress
It is natural to shoot for the stars when you are setting yourself a goal, but remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Whilst it is obviously important to know what the end goal is, it is the smaller steps that move you towards it, that help us stay on track. Try setting yourself weekly, fortnightly, or monthly smaller goals that you can achieve. When you do hit a target, it will release a reward chemical called Dopamine, which will, in turn, motivate you to continue towards what you are ultimately aiming for.
3. Make it important
Let us imagine that your goal is to quit smoking. Why is that important to you? Is it the money that you will save that motivates you, is it more about not having to go outside in all weather, or perhaps it is the health benefits and being around for you children or grandchildren that really motivates you? Write down why your goal is something that you have decided is something that you absolutely must achieve, rather than something that you feel would just make you feel a little better.
4. Change your routine
If each night as you return home from work or the school run you drive past the local convenience store and pop in to pick up a bottle of wine or a 6 pack of beer, then perhaps changing your route home might be a good idea. Or if you pour your first drink whilst you have a bath every night, maybe take a shower instead. There is a saying that I use in my clinic that goes “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”. With this in mind, think about how you can mix things up. Sit in a different chair in the evening, find an exercise routine that you enjoy if the gym is not for you or find a new system to get yourself organised.
5. Find an alternative
If you are giving something up, think what is your alternative to it? If it is junk food or alcohol, what would be nice to eat or drink instead? If it is smoking, what will you do with the extra time that you gain that would be pleasurable for you? By coming up with an alternative in advance, you are not leaving it to the cravings part of your brain to swap one vice for another.
6. Fake it until you make it
It might surprise you, but the brain really can’t tell the difference between what you imagine and what is reality. You can harness this by using the power of visualisation to imagine that you have already achieved your target, and this will in turn make the brain much more comfortable and confident in achieving your goal. I use this approach with my sports performance clients in my clinic to have them see themselves as having taken the perfect shot, or having won the competition already, and it makes a huge difference. I was talking about the power of visualisation with former World Champion Super Middleweight Boxer, Glenn Catley, and he said that he was never the best technical fighter, but through visualisation, he had an unshakable confidence that he was going to succeed, and it paid off. If it’s good enough for a world champion, it’s good enough for you.
7. You can get back on the wagon
Another saying that I use in the clinic is that “There’s no such thing as failure, only feedback”. Now you may or may not agree with that statement, but the premise of it is that if something doesn’t go to plan, learn from it, do something different and then get back on the wagon again. It took Thomas Edison 1,000 attempts before he successfully invented the lightbulb, but after each attempt he picked himself up, learnt something and kept trying. If you find that you slip up, notice how much you have achieved up to that point and remember there is no better time than that moment to dust yourself off and continue moving towards your goal.
8. Reward yourself
Plan something nice to reward yourself for achieving your smaller goals. The brain is programmed to move towards things that gives us pleasure, so by making the goals achievable and by celebrating the little victories, we become motivated to keep going.
9. Go public with it
If you feel comfortable with doing so, put your intentions out there to people who will support you. Better yet, if you can find someone else who has a similar goal to you, become each other’s champions.
10. Ditch the resolutions…well sort of.
It has become a long-running joke that most people have given up on their resolutions by the end of January. In fact, one study suggests less than 25% of people stay committed to them for over 30 days. Maybe instead of making “a New Year’s resolution”, try just setting the intension for how you would like your life to be. After all, if a resolution is something that you go into expecting to fail, the likelihood of success is significantly reduced.
Whatever your goal is for the new year, make it positive, make it irresistible and focus on how good you will feel when you have achieved it.
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