Sunday, 31 December 2017

Why Your 2018 Resolutions Are Going to Fail (And Hopefully Mine Won't)

Tonight is New Year's eve, December 31st. Which means tonight a lot of people are going to think about a handful of resolutions and when the clock finally hits midnight and we're suddenly in January 1st of the new year they mean to become a completely renewed person with all their resolutions. Let's be real now, though. By January 15th most of us have forgotten half of our resolutions already and by January 30th we've given up on most of them. All in all, you have 364 days in the year, sometimes even 365. It seems rather silly to me that you have to wait for a specific day to change your life. If you would really want to do it, you can do it on the other 363 days of the year.

Sometimes, though, I understand you need a specific date as a reason to start something new or give yourself a fresh start so the beginning of a new year is usually the most chosen date to do it and that makes sense. I am guilty of this too, to be honest. New year, new me, am I right? (Or, at least, improved me)

So last week I was listening to The Savvy Psychologist podcast, which I totally recommend you listen to, and she was talking about why most people's resolutions suck. There's four main reasons why that happens: they're either too vague, they try to take on a new habit, it sucks or you put it all in and then give up.

Let's break it down, shall we?
Most resolutions are too vague so you need to get specific with this. It's not enough to say "eat healthier" or "exercise more often", you have to set a goal like "working out twice a week" or "cooking vegan three times a week". Like she said, quantification is often the key to specificity and it's only that way you'll be able to track yourself down and know how to check it off.
A resolution about fitting in a new activity is often very dificult and doomed from the beginning because changing your habits is in itself very hard, as we always manage to find excuses to maintain our daily routine and not include this new resolution after a while. The trick here is to make it automatic, as an habit change works better if you link it with an already existent one.
When your resolution sucks, it's a total effort to you and you're forcing yourself to keep it going it's because people need more than sheer force of will to sustain a lasting change. Behaviors persist because they’re reinforced and you need to get something out of your resolution, some kind of reward, even if it's a nicer body. So make sure you're getting something out of it by tracking your progress and seeing how much you've accomplished and how far you've come. On the other hand, you can come up with an immediate reward, something that will make you feel good, and this involves pairing a “should,” like a resolution, with a “want” as a reward after you've done the "should".
Sometimes you go all in for awhile, but then your willpower (and your interest) fades and somehow life gets in the way and oops, there goes your resolution. So go easy on yourself and don't make breaking the chain of daily streaks a tragedy. Just pick it up and restart it again. After all, success isn’t achieved by maintaining a new habit perfectly but by minimizing the downtime between inevitable setbacks and you'll eventually get there with all its ups and downs.

Conclusion: for this thing to actually work out we need to be specific, automate it, get something out of it like a reward and not to be afraid to restart it again. With this said, and hoping I don't reach January 15th forgetting these (hopefully this post will hold me accountable, please ask me how I'm doing it once in a while), I decided to compile my own list of 2018 resolutions, where I tried not to be too ambitious:
1) Exercise 6 times a week, 28 minutes per day. I have already scheduled my workout plan for the next 6 months, so that should help me with this one.
2) Lose at least 5kg.
3) Keep up a daily streak on my German Duolingo.
4) While at it, finish my German Duolingo.
5) Travel to and visit (at least) 3 different countries this year.
6) Read at least 20 books.
7) Cook at home once a week.

So what about you? What are your 2018 resolutions? Do you think you'll be able to hold on to them?

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