How many times have you promised yourself that this was the year you were going to read more, quit smoking or finally lose weight? A poll from 2 years ago explains that 73% of Canadians don’t keep their New Year’s Resolutions. That means that while about a quarter of us are able to make long-term changes to our lives, a majority of people are having trouble. The Medical Station wants to help you reach your goals, if you find that you can never seem to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.
Stick with One Resolution
As January 1st rolls around it’s tempting to say “New Year, New You”, but research shows that trying to change too many habits at once could be your downfall. Making a new habit can be difficult and requires a lot of willpower. If you are forced to use too much will-power throughout the day, by trying to change too many habits, it can lead to ego depletion. This means that you have exhausted your will-power to the point where you give in to your vices. This can lead to breaking some, or all of your habits and the frustration that goes along with it. While 80% of people are able to form a new habit when it is the only thing they are trying to change, that number drops to 20% when you add just one more resolution.
Focusing on the Result and Not the Pathway
Author James Clear explains that a mistake we are making when choosing resolutions is that we are focusing on the outcome as opposed to the actual habit we want to change. For example, we tell ourselves we want to “be in shape” as opposed to going to the gym 3 times a week. We want to read 50 books instead of finding ways to include reading into our day-to-day lives. By focusing on the ritual and not the result, we are more likely to stick to our habits as they are more attainable and short-term.
Make Small Changes Instead
One of the major reasons why you may have failed to keep your New Year’s Resolutions in the past is that you are choosing unrealistic long-term goals, which makes it hard for you to stay on track. Instead, try setting small goals for yourself such as reducing your pop intake or waking up 10 minutes earlier. It has been shown that using smaller goals to reach a larger goal is much more effective and it makes sense physiologically. When you achieve a goal your brain releases a neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Dopamine works in our reward pathway to increase our pleasure, learning and memory and will motivate you to continue completing more goals. Therefore, smaller goals will keep you much more motivated than one large goal you can never seem to reach. We also suggest writing down these small goals as it makes you more likely to stick to them.