As we reflect on the blessings of 2019, we would like to thank you for joining us on our journey to health and wellbeing. It has been a great joy traveling with you on the road to true health and wellbeing.
We have just ended the holiday season, the most wonderful time of the year, but perhaps it felt like a month-long panic attack! New year is therefore the perfect occasion for soul searching, contemplation, and reflection. I love the freshness of the new year- the thought and feeling that there are endless possibilities ahead of us, starting over, the energy, pledging to live a healthier lifestyle. We resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, get rid of the unused things in our wardrobe, give up soda and junk food, start working out, clean out the inbox and hard drive, start saving money, be more organized, stop taking on unnecessary stress, spend more time with loved ones, spend less time on the internet and, finally, stick to all our New Year resolutions.
But while New Year’s resolutions are no doubt made with the best intentions, statistics show an 88% failure rate. The explosion of studies into how the brain works has more experts attempting to explain the science behind resolutions. The problem is clear: any abstract goal not tied to a specific behavior is nearly impossible for our brain to focus on. However, making it “instinctual” will help you achieve any new habit. This is the crucial aspect missing in 90% of all New Year’s resolutions, which makes them so likely to fail. Make any goal a habit first, and make it a tiny one. By breaking down each resolution and seeing what the smallest habit could be, your chances of succeeding will be 50% higher than if you leave it vague. Make it so easy and simple for yourself to create the habit that there is almost no way you can fail.
Let us start the reflection process followed by action: learn from the past year’s lessons, gaze ahead and consider where our energy should be directed. If you’ve set some big new changes for yourself, here are the most important things to consider:
1. Start with only one resolution.
Make your resolution list and arrange them by priority, then pick your most important goal. As Stanford University’s Prof. Shiv explained with her “cognitive overload” experiment, sticking to more than one New Year’s resolution is nearly impossible for your brain to handle.
- Take baby steps: break down your resolution into the simplest tasks possible.
Start with a plan. Think big, but act by making small adjustments. The larger the task or goal, the more overwhelming it may feel. Breaking it up into smaller, more manageable steps will help you move forward and lead to sustainable results. The tinier the step, the easier it will seem. The first step is to identify our existing behavior or habit, then add or develop a new behavior or habit after it.
- New Year’s Resolution: Eat Healthy. Slowly develop habits of substitution: drop your daily lunch dessert and eat a fruit instead; say no to potato chips, fries or ice cream for 4-6 weeks; drink a glass of green vegetable juice instead of soda, coffee or ice tea; bring your lunch to work instead of going for fast food.
- New Year’s Resolution: Lose Weight and Get Fit. Start with a 2-3 minute run or walk around the block; 1-2 minutes on a trampoline; drink an extra glass of purified water a day. Build up to a longer, regular exercise routine (10 minutes of trampoline is equivalent to one hour of brisk walking).
- Have others hold you accountable.
Research proves that people around us can have a significant impact on our behavior. Sharing your new
habits with friends and family make you much more likely to stick to them. You feel accountable to report
your daily progress.
- Chart your progress.
Always write down your goals, including a practical timeline and specific deadlines for each one. Without deadlines, you can put them off indefinitely. It can be vastly rewarding to look back on your progress and see how far you’ve come, and it can help and inspire you to keep going.
- Rewarding yourself often increases your chance of success.
For every little step along the way, celebrate your success and give yourself a reward. It helps to write down appropriate rewards for each step so you can look forward to them.
- Limit your digital distractions.
Let us put a leash on our digital “alter ego.” Email, social networking and other websites are a procrastinator’s heaven. One of major effects of the digital age is that we habitually live in a state of information overload. All non-essential information adds to the clutter of our daily lives and distracts us from focusing on our goals.
- Stay motivated by constantly reviewing your goals.
To accomplish our goals, studies show we need a lot of sustained motivation. Keep yourself motivated by focusing on the positive – how good you’ll feel when you’re done, how much better your day will be, and the benefits you’ll experience. No need to beat yourself up for small failures along the way. Pick yourself up and reassess your goals. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up or a little inspiration as you move towards your goal, get a copy of Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic or Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom. If you stick with a goal long enough, you’ll almost always get there eventually. It just takes patience.