Are you planning to build a better you in 2020? The good news is that as a new year approaches 45% of Americans start thinking about making positive changes in their lives. Additional good news: people who make resolutions are about ten times more likely to achieve change than those who don’t make resolutions.
The bad news is that most who make resolutions — 92% — will fail in their well-intentioned efforts.
Build A Better You
The older you get the more likely you will fail. About 40% of people in their 20s achieve their resolutions, as compared to 14% of the 50-plus crowd. So much for that age and wisdom thing.
A Psychology Today article points out that you need to rewire your brain in order to successfully complete your resolutions,
Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors — and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain). Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it,” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.
In other words, you need to replace these old bad habits with good habits to create new neural pathways. But you also need to properly utilize your willpower in order to make theses changes.
Willpower, it has been found, is not infinite. So, it is better to focus on process goals than on more nebulous goals. Instead of resolving to lose 20 pounds, which could take a lot of time and deplete your supply of willpower, plan to go to the gym three times per week for two weeks.
Success at smaller tasks such as this boosts your resolve and makes it easier to stay on track. Breaking a resolution down into specific behaviors helps you turn old, bad habits into new, good habits a little at a time. Keep track of these little successes and celebrate them.
Also, try incremental change instead of absolutes. For instance, instead of swearing off wine for good, you might plan to only have wine when you’re out at a restaurant for dinner.
You need to be realistic in goal-setting as well.
Setting unattainable goals sets you up for failure. Bacon is my favorite food, so I would never try to give it up completely. That’s a fail just waiting to happen.
Another problem people have is trying to complete a laundry list of resolutions. It’s OK to have several resolutions, but don’t work on all of them at the same time. Studies have shown that when you overload your brain with too many objectives that require self-control, you deplete your glucose levels. Low glucose levels negatively affect performance.
So, pick the resolution that will provide the most benefit to you, and start with it. If you feel your self-control weaken, have a glass of orange juice to boost your glucose back to normal levels since the brain’s primary food is glucose.
When resolution #1 is under control, move on to #2.
Once you have decided upon your resolution, tell friends and family. They can provide support and help you achieve the goal. If you relapse a bit, don’t beat yourself up over it. Renew your commitment to the goal and get after it again.
Follow these steps and you can build a better you in 2020.