Are you making a New Year's resolution?
New Year’s Resolutions
It is said that New Year’s resolutions have their origins in religion. Starting when the Babylonians made promises to return borrowed objects and pay their debts, the Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus (for whom the month of January is named). However, no matter what religion, it is commonplace for us all to reflect upon self-improvement annually. Every mention of the term New Year reminds us of this commitment to reflection.
Each year about 25 million people in the United Kingdom will consider making a New Year’s resolution. Why would we choose January 1st as the date to start? Why didn’t we start yesterday or even today? The truth is, no matter what the origin, people do like drawing a ‘line in the sand’ and having something to aim for. Yet potentially waiting till the start of the New Year could actually be sabotaging our efforts to make the changes that you actually desire. Out of those 25 million people it is only likely that only 2 million people, or 8%, will statistically achieve success. The effects of this can be seen graphically in figure 1 below.
Top New Year’s resolutions last year were:
- lose weight
- getting organised
- spend less and save more
- enjoy life
- become fit and healthy
- do something adventurous and exciting
- quit smoking
- devote more time to helping others
- find the right person and fall in love
- devote more time to spend with family
These changes correlate with an article that I recently wrote on what people wish for which can be found here.
Figure 1: Resolution Effectiveness
I hope that by viewing the statistics you don’t feel put off. The truth is that by attempting your change you will at least give yourself a chance to change. In fact people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals in the longer term than those people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. Are you tempted to tell everybody, family friends, the world of Facebook or Twitter that you’re engaging in change? Would this place undue pressure on you? Sometimes people do need this to obtain the pressure in order to succeed and yet, don't we open ourselves up to being perceived as having failed by the social media community. The older we get the less chance we have of achieving our change. Statistically, 39% of people in their 20s will achieve their resolutions compared with only 14% of those people aged 50 or over.
So how do I ensure that I am one of the 8% this year?
When we make a resolution what we are really doing is seeking to change an outcome (or the result) through our actions. We asked ourselves the question ‘are we doing things right?’ We have come up with our answers. We did things differently and we have made a change, but will it stick? Sometimes it will and yet often it does not and people wonder why and will then ask the question ‘are we doing the right things?’ This this will sometimes bring a greater success and yet regression is often there because the mind operates and patterns and not just changes in behaviour.
For the most sustainable changes to occur, people need to change their perceptions and really believe in the changes they’re making.
The classic example is in the case of a smoker. The individual has decided that it’s time to quit smoking or give up (the term give up relates to preventing something enjoyable pleasurable and every time you say give up the mind craves the tobacco more). It is likely the individual has gone cold turkey and found it extremely difficult, maybe lasting a day or two before returning to the original smoking patterns. After period of time they then choose to ‘give up’ once again and seek the help of a GP or chemist service who suggest gum or patches. For some this will work well whilst others over time will once again fall into those original patterns of behaviour. At this stage, a number of individuals will seek hypnotherapy in order to make sustainable lasting changes. Even then there will be a percentage will not quit and will go back to smoking. In my experience, the individual must:
BE 100% READY TO QUIT
Then, the hypnotherapist changes the subconscious perception of smoking and hence aligning both the conscious and subconscious minds towards that goal.
I have the privilege of working with individuals throughout the year, facilitating change to provide a better quality-of-life whether that’s becoming healthier, eliminating fears or working with the emotions. In any case, here are my top tips to success in maintaining those New Year’s resolutions:
SMART goal - spend some time to really consider what it is you want to achieve, what is the thing that is common to bring the biggest positive change in your life? Once you have that you can ensure that your goal is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound). Smart goals do not need to be complex, for example:
"I will weigh 80kg, eat a salad every lunch and have the correct portion sizes, (in-line with the healthy eating plate) for dinner. In addition, I will exercise three times a week by Dec 2016."
This can be then broken down even further, for example investigating the range of salad options, what constitutes a healthy evening meal with the correct portion sizes and how the individual will exercise and on what days and what times in the week. I would advise writing the goals down and place them into your purse or wallet for daily reinforcement.
Don’t beat yourself up - although you may have early success, do not be downhearted if there are occasional slips. Somebody said that change needs to happen for 21 days and yet I believe that change takes much longer. I believe that it takes 6 to 18 months of change behaviour before you should consider it permanent. So you can see that one occasion of a slip-up, whilst important is just the subconscious mind testing you to see if this change is really what you want. Treat it as feedback on the learning experience, this is not failure.
Stick to it – whatever you do stick to it. Persistence and perseverance are the keys to success!
Track progress - the mind likes and enjoys patterns and, there is no greater motivation than seeing progress tracked. Make a chart, keep a diary but visually see the success.
Reward yourself - Celebrate success. You’ve made a change, you’re sticking to it and the subconscious mind needs to know that this change behaviour brings you happiness. Go ahead and reward yourself. Focus on what you’re doing right, possibly you can reward yourself when you achieve a certain sub-goal, when you’ve lost that little bit of weight on the journey towards the big chunk of weight. Plan your celebration, food rewards are not helpful in any case but more so things like buying yourself a certificate or trophy, buying a keepsake or something memorable, it’s important to have the feeling of success and celebrate that which is important, perhaps make a scrapbook where you can re-live your successes.
Support and accountability - as mentioned earlier on in this article telling family and friends can be a real positive and can steer you to success through the application of positive pressure and yet for some people failure can bring embarrassment, especially if it’s been widely announced on social media. Perhaps you could choose just one person who can work with you, keeping you on the straight and narrow and keeping you motivated whilst limiting wider perceptions, ironically you’re more likely to succeed...
Visualise and work towards the goal and success daily - some goals require constant motivation, especially with addictions. Tobacco, drinking, sugar are those I would class as posing a constant battle and yet the other addictions as such as gambling, sexual or drugs provide cravings several times daily. Whatever your goal, you need to to move daily towards the end point, doing something constructive that moves you that little bit closer. By visualising success you are programming the mind to expect that success and hence develop greater motivation and further understanding of how you will get there.
Whatever your goals are or whatever New Year’s resolutions you’re going to be making I would like you to know that you can achieve them, there’s no reason why 25 million people can not succeed by achieving their goals this January and for 2016, use the top tips and go and get the success you deserve.
If you’d like to discuss making changes or how to succeed in making those changes stick, with coaching or with hypnotherapy (remember some changes may require deep subconscious learning) and I would be happy to provide a free consultation. I can be contacted at: