Sunday, January 3, 2016

15 Experts’ Recommendations to Making New Year's Resolutions Stick

New Year Resolutions

A New Year is not just a calendar mark, it is a trigger point for many people, bringing desire to change the essential life aspects for better, turn around life failures and refresh the dying personal relations. A fresh and optimistic spirit of “new year, new me” motivates many to make a New Year’s resolution. Based on the latest research, more than fifty percent of all Americans decide to themselves to do more or less of something in their day-to-day lives. Losing weight, exercising on a regular basis and becoming adept at financial management usually top the list of resolutions. However, good intentions may gradually turn into setbacks or flat out despair when a well-thought plan evaporates like smoke. The reality is that only 8 percent of folks will succeed to a certain degree at keeping their New Year’s resolutions.

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How you Can Decide to Change your Life for Better?

Well, you know the best of all people, what you are really not happy about. That might be a really problem, or might be artificially created. In any case, it is as real as it is real for you. Just to give you statistical sample, of what Americans’ care about the most (2015 data), here is the list of the 10 most popular resolutions:

1. Lose Weight
2. Getting Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others in Their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family

Do some resolutions ring a bell to you? Or, do you have a wholly different list of the prioritized intentions? Or, you need to discuss the list of the resolutions with your therapist? In any case, making the mental or written list is very important. But it is even more important to act upon pursuing these tasks well over the New Year holidays season.

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How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions?

Now you know that keeping the resolutions is not an easy process. Here are some recommendations from the specialists on the strategies and approaches you may consider, helping you on the way to the personal victory.

1. Make it something you really want. Do not make it a resolution, that you "should" want, or what other people may tell you to want. It has to fit with your own values.

"Put some thought into it," says Richard O'Connor, author of "Happy at Last: The Thinking Person's Guide to Finding Joy." And avoid knee-jerk New Year's resolutions, he says. "I encourage people not to make cheap resolutions, but to save it for something meaningful."

2. Limit your list to a number you can handle. "It's probably best to make two or three resolutions that you intend to keep," says O'Connor. That way, you are focusing your efforts on the goals you truly want.

3. Clearly define your goals. Many people in the spirit of New Year’s loudly proclaim, “This is the year I’m going to finally get in shape.” But, what does that mean? Do you intend to lose a certain number of pounds? Reach a body-fat percentage goal? Run three miles without rest? Bang out 10 pull-ups? The first step to behavior change is to clearly understand what “it” is.

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4. Visualize the end results. As writer Rod Ebrahimi says, “focus on the carrot, not the stick”. If you are having trouble staying motivated, focus on what you’ll get from your end goal—whether that’s feeling better at a lower weight, being able to impress your friends with your new guitar skills, or just being able to breathe now that you’ve quit smoking. Staying positive seems like common sense, but it can be hard when you are in the middle of a big plateau.

5. Track your progress. “If you can measure it, you can change it” is a fundamental principal of psychology. These measurements will be a source of motivation as you reflect on where you started and where you are. They will also help you to identify plateaus or “sticking points” in your progress so you can adjust your efforts.

6. Make One Change at a Time. Once you understand that you have only a limited amount of willpower, it's easy to understand why multiple resolutions aren't likely to work, says Ian Newby-Clark, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Guelph in Canada. Most resolutions actually require many behavior changes. Sure, some are straightforward, like remembering to take a calcium pill every day — but a successful weight-loss program, for example, calls for more than just a decision to eat less. You have to shop and cook differently, start or ramp up an exercise routine, maybe even ditch certain social or family events. "Thinking through these substrategies boosts success rates," says Newby-Clark. "But it would take too much attention and vigilance to do all that and also decide it's time to brush your teeth for the full two minutes and become better informed about world events."

7. Piggyback Your Resolution with Existing Habits. If your resolution involves building small habits—like, say, flossing every day or taking daily vitamins—you can “piggyback” these habits with other, already-established ones. Stick your dental floss in your shower and floss during your shower, or put your vitamin jar inside your kitchen cupboard so you always remember to take them when you eat breakfast. The easier you can form the habit, the more likely it is to stick.

8. Have patience. You must set realistic goals and realize that progress is never linear. Some people will see rapid gains only to hit resistance later in their efforts. For others, initial progress may be painfully slow but then they suddenly achieve rapid breakthroughs. Making lasting changes takes time.

Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. It will not happen overnight, so be persistent and patient!

9. Publicize your goals to friends and family. As embarrassing as it might be to announce your specific resolution to the world, social support is critical. Yes, it takes some personal courage and vulnerability to share something that you might actually fail at, but to dramatically increase your odds of success you will want support from those around you.

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10. Put it on your schedule. How often do you hear people say they cannot “find the time” to do something. Nobody finds time. We all choose to spend our time the way we do—whether that’s eating junk food or going to a spin class. Make your new goals a priority and actually schedule them into your calendar. If you have a fitness goal schedule time for your workouts. If you want to declutter, schedule time to clean out your closet on your calendar. If you want to save money, put in a weekly budget review onto your Sunday afternoons. Think of these time blocks as important appointments—just like an appointment with a doctor. Do not automatically schedule something else over them. That which is scheduled gets done.

11. Stop “all or nothing” thinking. It is better do something than nothing. Are you guilty of “all or nothing” thinking? Do you ever think, “Well, I might as well get dessert since I already ate those French fries?” And then, “I blew my diet last night so I’ll just restart it next week.” The difference between doing something rather than nothing is huge. If you do not have a full hour to workout at the gym, just decide to make it the best 20-minutes you can. If you have a slight cold or minor injury, decide to just walk the track for a couple miles. If you have a financial emergency and cannot save your full 10% this month, just save what you can. The bottom line is, any effort towards your goal is better than no effort.

12. Lift Your Spirits. Watching funny movies — or doing just about anything that puts you in a good mood — also helps when willpower starts wearing down. In a particularly sneaky study, researchers asked a group of 30 hungry students to sit in a room that smelled like freshly baked cookies. Although a plate of M&Ms and still-warm cookies was placed within reach, participants were told to snack on a bowl of radishes. Then they were left alone for 10 to 12 minutes in order to exhaust their self-restraint.

Next, some of the students watched a film clip of Robin Williams doing stand-up, while another group viewed a film about dolphins. When, in the last part of the experiment, they were asked to perform a complex tracing project that called for lots of self-control, students who had seen the funny film stuck with the trying task for about 13 minutes. The Flipper crowd hung in for only nine.

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13. Get up, when you slip up. None of us are perfect. As the great Vince Lombardi said, “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” Resiliency is the key. Don’t turn relapses or temporary failures into total meltdowns or excuses for giving up. Instead, just acknowledge the mistake and recommit to the path.

14. Reward Yourself. This does not mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to eat a better diet. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution. If you have been sticking to your promise to eat better, for example, reward yourself with new fitness clothing or by going to a movie with a friend.

15. Ask for support. Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.

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