What Makes Them Stick? Our tendency is to start the New Year with a list of resolutions and gung-ho motivation. For resolutions to become good habits, make the kind of New Year’s resolutions that boost self-confidence and make positive changes in your routine.
Resolutions aren’t easy to stick with and most of us are backsliding by the end of January.
Habits, good and bad alike, are thinking patterns embedded in our brains. Relapsing is the brain’s way of defaulting to what it’s used to doing.
Substituting a new habit for an old one requires creating new behaviors to override the old ones. That’s the real definition of will power.
Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote in a recent NY Times article that regardless of age, and even in spite of devastating injuries, the brain is capable of re-inventing itself in ways that still confound medical science. Even the most stubborn habits are capable of being eradicated. So, new habits are within our power.
Focus on the positive. It’s the most important tool for carrying out any plan. The brain power used to obsess over weight, career, money, relationships, and past mistakes is powerful energy. Recycle it for more useful projects.
Prepare a Mental Program. This is a positive internal dialogue to have ready when we’re in danger of slipping into a funk. When the mind wanders into negative territory it can paralyze even the best intentions. It’s much easier to accomplish great things when we believe we can.
Set specific goals. One big reason resolutions fail is we tend to make them too broad or too vague. To reach even the most challenging goal, we need to be able to break it down into the steps required to complete it. There’s only one way to eat an elephant and that’s one bite at a time.
This Year, Change Your Mind
NEW Year’s resolutions often have to do with eating more healthfully, going to the gym more, giving up sweets, losing weight – all admirable goals aimed at improving one’s physical health. Most people, though, do not realize that they can strengthen their brains in a similar way. READ MORE
Where to Begin:
Expert Advice on Maintaining Resolutions:
Two University of Maryland psychiatrists offer time-tested tips to help you prepare for success.
Avoid perfectionist thinking. While we certainly always want to better ourselves, it is healthier to think in positive terms than it is to focus on how much we fall short of our aspirations. In other words, students should view the grade of an A- as better than a B, rather than not as good as an A.