Now that the old year has passed, it’s time to think about New Year’s resolutions. Each year, we strive to be better in some way – and resolutions assist our self-improvement plan. However, not all of us have learned how to apply resolutions in ways that have lasting effects. Many of us start strong and fizzle out just around spring, others give up in early February. So what gives? Why do we give up on our dreams and the pursuit of being optimal versions of ourselves? It has a lot to do with the way we think about resolutions, the pressure we apply, and our expectations.
Don’t give into the reward yourself system
The easiest way to fail is giving into impulse. This sets us up for failure. When we reach a milestone, it’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge what we’ve accomplished. We should feel proud of ourselves, actually. But keep moving forward and don’t stop, not yet. When we put the urge to reward ourselves ahead of our long term goals, we fail ourselves.
We should avoid treating ourselves in ways that undermine or destroy what we’ve worked hard for. If every time we applaud ourselves at each marker, the brain becomes motivated by the reward system rather than the self-improvement goal resting on the horizon. We lose focus and our goal becomes foggy. If we reward every breakthrough, the final goal won’t feel as powerful or satisfactory.
Slow and steady wins the race. Self-improvement is not a competition. It is a lifestyle change, so consider starting small and working toward bigger goals. The problem lies in how we structure our goals. We tend to set goals that are massive. And some goals are simply impossible to accomplish without a system. Approaching change requires patience and finesse. It demands mapping out how to get from point A to point B. Think about making changes in small, digestible pieces. Don’t go for an overwhelming resolution. And don’t go for one without a clear, solid plan that has proven results, preferably tested by others.
Be easy on yourself
We all make mistakes. But when we have committed to a goal and fail, we beat ourselves up. We fall victim to destructive self-talk, which leads to feeding the ego in negative ways. Often, when we have minor hiccups or something prevents us from our goals, the capacity to further criticize ourselves increases. We then lose focus. This attitude causes us to fall into a hole – and quickly. We self sabotage. Getting back up again is what really counts. Always seek self-improvement and be gentle with yourself, even when it feels like you’re not making any strides.
Find a community where there’s plenty of support and accountability. Rather than trying to stick to your resolutions on your own, find an exercise buddy or career mentor. Encouragement leads to success. Determination will pay off, just keep at it. Staying as consistent as possible is key. Above all, believe in yourself.