By Ben Schoeffler
The first minutes of new years are celebrated with champagne, kisses, hope, and reflection. Often times this reminiscing leads to the desire to make a change in your life. You might have gained some weight over the holidays, maybe you are struggling with health issues you want to get control over, or perhaps you have some sort of routine that is just holding you back.
“What better time than the new year to start a change?” you think. Unfortunately, you may be unknowingly setting yourself up for failure. There are a few ways to avoid some of the pitfalls of making resolutions so you can start 2015 off right.
1) If you have to make a resolution, DON’T TELL ANYONE!
You’ve really decided that you want to lose that extra weight or stop smoking, you are so excited you want to tell the world! The bad news is, if you follow that instinct you will be less likely to follow through and complete your goal in the long term. By telling people your goal, that triggers you to feel successful even though you haven’t actually done anything yet. Your brain then releases all of those great natural chemicals like dopamine and serotonin to make you feel good for your accomplishment. That’s like getting the reward before you put in the work, which makes you less likely to actually carry on during the difficult times. If you want to be successful, keep your goal a secret.
2) Make ridiculously small changes (so small you would feel embarrassed to tell people!)
The secret to making BIG change is to start small. Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg researched how people create habits. He found that by asking people without a habit of flossing to start by just flossing ONE tooth per day, they were more likely to develop a daily habit of flossing all of their teeth.That’s because flossing one tooth is so easy it seems trivial. But by flossing one, it’s easy to floss the one right next to it, and the one after that. Because the barrier to success is so low (just flossing one tooth), it’s easy to do it every day. This methodology can be applied to any area of your life you want to change a daily habit. The key to it all is to celebrate your victory after completing that small habit. That builds the momentum, which leads to big success.
3) Are you running from the bees into a burning building?
People are motivated in one of two ways: Motivation away from something & motivation towards something.
One is fear based. If you are being attacked by a swarm of bees you will run anywhere in order to get away from them. That is motivation AWAY from something. The problem with doing that is you may find yourself running into a burning building just to get away from a few stings!The better method of motivation is towards something. That way all of your resources are headed in the right direction. Don’t try and run away from the chocolate cake, instead, move towards health. When you are moving towards health not only do you automatically begin to eat better, but other supplemental habits like exercising and meditation also move you towards your goal because they are a part of full body health.
4) If you take an action, make it booking an appointment.
If you absolutely have to take some sort of action right away, book an appointment with a hypnotherapist, counselor, or life coach. Having an appointment with someone who will help you work through the mental hurdles and keep you accountable can really increase the odds of you making permanent and lasting change.You may think, “I don’t need a counselor” to help me lose weight. But often times habits appear as a way to cope with the stress, trauma, and other emotional factors you may not be consciously aware of. A mental health professional can give you new ways to handle anxiety while at the same time keeping you accountable when you feel like giving up. Sometimes asking for a little help is the smartest thing you can do.