A little more than half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent of those who do succeed in meeting their goals. This is because we don’t make resolutions that stick. Sure, we set reminders on our smartphones, place Post It!® notes on our mirrors, and tie yarn on our fingers, but perhaps the problem isn’t about forgetting to complete our resolutions. Maybe it’s how we make and keep them.
January 1 marks fresh starts for most. We inevitably start thinking about things we could change, work on, and do away with in the new year. We feel motivated and swear that “This is the year I …lose weight, …write a book, …call Grandma more, …learn how to knit.” (Circle one.) Or none for that matter, because by January 6, our new year starts looking stale and same as ever.
Is our problem the potential? Do we lack even the opportunity to change? Not quite. But, will we? That’s probably a no, too. The answer to this depends on several factors, but the common issue is that our psychological make-up tends to stand in the way of our physical one.
Our brainpower (or lack thereof) tends to tangle up of our physical ability to do something. We also don’t acknowledge what’s going on in our brains. Joseph Shrand, M.D., an author and instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains that self-control and discipline are rational desires that dwell in the front of our brains, meaning that they are the newest evolved and most vulnerable to being overrun by survival instincts.
Pleasure resides in the brain’s oldest and most primitive part. Our pleasure center once encouraged us to do what helped us stay alive and healthy–such as sex and eating–but now we’ve grown accustomed to the same rush of dopamine when giving into anything we desire, even when the rational part of our brain tells us No!
So how we outsmart the brain’s motherboard? In the case of New Year’s resolutions, how do we #hack our rational side to triumph over our pleasure center? We’ve collected some great strategies to help our resolutions stick in 2017.
- Make resolutions, not wishes. A successful New Year’s resolution is specific. Before 2017, define your goals. Know exactly why you want to do your resolutions; this will help you when your motivation’s lacking and your willpower’s nowhere to be seen.Once you have your goals and resolutions written down, chop them up into little actions. For example, the most common New Year’s resolution involves fitness. Instead of resolving to “lose weight”, try writing down, “I plan to run 3 miles every day for 100 days.” Not only will you lose the weight, but you’ll know exactly what to do when you wake up each morning.
- Track your progress. It’s important to see where you’re going and realize how far you’ve come. Tracking your progress also calls out where the road bumps and potholes are in your resolution journey. This is a good way to check in with yourself daily or weekly to review your growth and prepare or reset your intentions, if necessary. With the noise and activity of everyday life, it’s easy to forget where we are in our journey towards change. Tracking progress is a simple yet effective way to stay grounded.
- Publicize your goals. Sure, it may feel embarrassing and uncomfortable to share your goals, but social support and community are critical. Involving those around you increases your odds of success. Sharing boosts your accountability, clarity, progression, motivation, and much more.Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep your loved ones in the loop, and allow them to track your progress with you. To do even better, join a community of those in pursuit of the same goals. When you take the time to be vulnerable, share a goal, provide progress updates, and keep in touch, you not only enhance your chances of reaching your goal but you also strength connections.
- Ditch the “all or nothing” mindset. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Oops, I ate that cupcake so I’ll start my diet next week”? It’s easy to find yourself stuck in the “all or nothing” mindset. Well, folks, the difference between doing nothing and doing something is huge, even if that something is waaay smaller, shorter, or less. Any effort towards your goal is a step forward.This is important, too, when making New Year’s resolutions. If you start and fail by mid-January, it would be foolish to wait until next January to start again. The new year may feel like a fresh start, but you’re allowed to make resolutions all year. In fact, it’s better for you to do so.
- Have patience. You’ve heard the mantras: “Dreams only work if you do”, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary”, or “What comes easy won’t last; what lasts won’t come easy.” The tough truth is, the change you’re seeking won’t happen tomorrow. Set realistic goals and realize progress isn’t linear. Regardless of if it involves health, money, time, or family, good things are worth waiting for and working towards.
Resolution Club can help you with these strategies. Resolution Club is a simple, accountability-based program that manages your resolutions and your support community. It’s a software designed to help you better yourself and the world. Here’s how:
Resolution Club helps us make resolutions and not wishes by forcing us to whittle our resolutions down to bite-size pieces to consume daily, like vitamins. When using Resolution Club to create and manage your New Year’s resolution, you’ll learn how to make your resolutions actionable and trackable.
Resolution Club also brings our family and friends alongside to cheer us on and even complete our resolutions with us. By utilizing Facebook, Resolution Club creates a community of support while we resolve to better ourselves and the world. Anyone you’re connected to on Facebook can log in to see your progress, encourage you, and even complete your resolution with you.
Reset your iPhone reminders, toss those Post It!® notes and leave the yarn to your Grandma; join Resolution Club today to start making–and keeping–sticky resolutions.