“How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?”
I asked my friend this question back in October 2015 and he laughed.
I found his reaction equally amusing, but for totally different reasons.
Aren’t New Year’s Resolution are supposed to be for the entire New Year?
When people make their New Year’s Resolutions, they have an upbeat attitude towards their goals and dreams; a new energy injected into their lives, a genuine impetus to change.
Fast forward to mid-year and they’ve all but given up.
Heck, fast forward to February of the New Year and already there’s more space to navigate the gym.
If you want to make something happen, you have to build a system around it.
Build a structure around going to the gym that would compel you to workout consistently, bit by bit over time.
Build a system around saving more and spending less.
Build a routine that would allow you to lose (or gain) weight systematically.
If you don’t – it’s game over before you know it.
It’s easy to plan for the future because you look at those future events in abstract terms.
“Yeah, I’ll workout. I’ll go to gym more often. Maybe jog, do some yoga, lift weights.”
But when it comes down to putting in the work, people start to flake on the promises they’ve made to themselves.
Why can’t your New Year’s Resolution stick?
1. Future events are viewed in abstract terms
But when that once upon a time future event looms large and turns into a present event; it’s NOW – they are faced with various practicalities that they need to think about before going to the gym.
What will I wear to the gym?
What should I eat before my workout?
How long before my workout should I eat?
What routine will I do? What muscle group should I focus on today?
You’re expending precious mental resources and willpower on things you should have sorted out long ago – preferably when you first set out to introduce this new habit into your life.
And sometimes we just can’t be bothered to think of all of this stuff. It’s too much hassle.
And we give up.
2. The volitional phase
You might be motivated, but what will help your volition?
In health psychology, there are various models that are supposed to support behavior change, whether that be to promote fitness, start eating more fruit and veg, or stop smoking.
According to the Model of Action Phases, there is a motivational phase and a volitional phase to every change in behavior.
The motivational phase is where you form your intention and get motivated to act on that intention – “I want to workout more!”
The volitional phase is where you realise your intention and make specific plans on how to act out that intention – “I should do this, this, and this to workout more!”
When you form your New Year’s Resolution, you’ve covered the motivational phase. But have you focused on the volitional phase?
So what can you do to make sure you’ve covered both phases? It’s easy to cover the motivational phase – all you have to do is want to change (sometimes this can be tough on its own).
To cover the volitional phase – you have make a plan.
The when. The where. The how. The If-Then.
They call these little plans Implementation Intentions.
If it’s Monday then I will do a chest workout.
How? 3 sets of chest flyes, 3 sets of chest presses, 3 sets of bench presses.
If it’s dinner time then I will eat at least half a bag of spinach/green beans/kale.
How? Always have a bag of veg ready for before dinner.
If I get my monthly paycheck then I will immediately transfer £100/£200/£300 into my savings account.
How? Create a savings account so that I can transfer money easily.
In a nutshell, the key to making your New Year’s Resolutions successful are:
1) a focus on the practicalities of your goals
2) details and plans to help you in your volition.
92% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
92% is a big number. Is it the norm?
But you’re not part of the norm.
Not if you’re reading this.
Sure, it’s difficult to keep your New Year’s Resolution going all year.
But anything worthwhile is difficult to achieve.
Otherwise everybody would be doing those difficult things. And it wouldn’t be so special anymore.
It’s difficult to achieve your long-term goals. But all it takes is a little bit of structure and discipline initially – then it becomes automatic. It becomes second nature. It becomes a habit.
So how would you feel if you were in that 8%?
The 8% that managed to achieve the long-terms goals they set out to conquer since January 1st.
It’s much easier for you to be part of that esteemed group now that you know these 2 simple tips.
If you use this knowledge wisely and put in the work – you will thank yourself for it.
A new you awaits.
P.S if you found this helpful, share this with a friend – it will help them achieve their long-term goals 🙂