As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the past year, be thankful for the happy times and learn lessons from the not-so-good ones. It is around this time that most people start dreaming big for the next year. Fervent hearts full of determination are all set to achieve their resolutions in the coming year. Fast forward a few weeks most people have given up. All though they meant it in the beginning, 80% of the people have given up before the end of February. Year after year, following the same pattern of breaking resolutions can have an impact on one’s mental health. To understand how we can keep up with our resolutions, let’s try to understand why most people give up.
While the idea of changing habits or starting new ones seem like a good idea, sometimes people are not ready to make the change. It is a half-hearted decision made due to the pressures of the holiday season. Another reason is accountability. It is hard to keep up with uncomfortable new habits when we are not accountable to anyone. Being answerable and keeping track helps motivate us when we feel like giving up. Other common reasons are lack of planning, overconfidence, and not considering what needs to be given up to build new habits.
The key to a successful new year’s resolution lies in preparing ahead. It involves taking the opportunity to think through and plan meticulously ahead of time.
1)Start with being small and specific
It is important to have one or 2 habits to work on instead of a whole list of them. Change is uncomfortable and having too many of them can lead to being overwhelmed and giving up altogether. Similarly, being specific about our goals can carve a direction for us to move forward in. For example – instead of ‘not watching tv as much, something like ‘watching only 30 mins a day is a measurable way to keep track of our success.
2)Writing a plan
Once you have a specific goal ready, it is time to write down a plan on how you would want to achieve it. Continuing with our previous example, planning what to do instead of watching tv, what programs you want to watch, and what time of the day you want to watch, and writing it down can be a good reminder when you need one.
3)Planning for adversities
There will certainly be times when our mind and body will not support us during the first few days. Planning about what those adversities might be and how you can overcome them is a good way to ensure you will stick to your plan. Writing a letter to be read when you want to give up can help you get back on the horse.
4)Make yourself accountable
Having an accountability partner to share your wins and understand setbacks is another way to progress through your new habit. Tell your friends and family about your resolutions and listen to what they want to accomplish. Support each other – maybe even work toward the same goals – and talk through what works and where you need help.
5)Learn from the past
If you have had resolutions in the past and broken them, try to retrace your steps to understand what happened. Ask yourself if it is likely to happen again. If your answer is yes, add it to your list of possible adversities with a game plan to overcome them.
6)Don’t let unaccomplished days throw you off balance
This is where most people lose their confidence. You may not be able to stick to your new habit every day right off the bat. Despite the adversities plan, if you are unable to stick to your new habit for a few days, it is important to not give up. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get back in the game and start again. 2 days of setbacks should not determine 11 months of unfulfilled resolutions.
7)Know your WHY
While your new habit may be uncomfortable to follow in the beginning, knowing WHY you decided to change it and reminding yourself of it regularly will keep you going. Most of us have a good reason to make new year’s resolutions. It is the momentary discomfort that causes people to lose sight of it and when they look back at themselves at the end of the year, they haven’t achieved what they set out to do. Keeping your WHY handy will remind you of what is more important when you are losing direction.
The best time to reflect and plan for an unbeatable new side of you is right now. It is also a good idea to start making those changes to get the first few difficult days out of the way. This way when the new year rolls in, you will be settled into your new habit and ahead of the game. So go and get your paper and pen, list out what habits you want to change, and pick the most appealing one to get started. Our habits determine the kind of lives we lead and worthwhile life is attributed to worthwhile habits.
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Written by Kritika Rao