If you are going strong keep going work that willpower muscle and pat yourself on the back for each day that you keep moving towards your desired resolution. If you have started to let go or given up don’t despair 88% of people do not carry through with New Year resolutions, and it’s not because they are weak, it’s not because they lack desire to change or that they are lazy. It is because when you are trying to change longstanding habits it takes time and a clear positive action plan.
To succeed at any new intention you need to change the process by which things are done. Your brain is a powerful tool that can be your biggest cheer squad leading your forward if you communicate with it correctly. For us to do this we need to exercise our prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that gives us willpower.
Many of us are aware of willpower and how much we think we have, what many of us don’t realise is that we can develop this and make it strong just like any muscle in the body. Just like any muscle building exercise it needs to done correctly to be effective. No personal trainer would have you working only one muscle area to tone the whole body and the same goes for our willpower. You can’t overload it with 5 workouts at once and hope to achieve overall change. To develop willpower you need to build it up slowly. Making small changes that become new habits and ways of thinking.
There are tools along the way that we can use to help ensure that our willpower workout is successful. So if you are about to give up on your New Year’s intention I urge you to take a moment and give this process a try before you totally throw in the towel.
1 – list your intentions
What do you desire to achieve. Ensure that this list contains positive and realistic intentions that are have clear a focus, not wishy-washy.
E.g.: ‘I want to be healthy’ well what does that truly mean to you? Does that mean lose weight? Does that mean give up smoking? Does that mean exercise? What is healthy to you? Perhaps it means all of these and that’s great if so break it down into three separate intentions so we can exercise willpower one at a time
So let’s say it is to give up smoking which is common theme this time of year, how can we exercise willpower for this? Be realistic, know how many smokes you have in day, how long have you been smoking for? You willpower needs help to cut these out. Its current habit is to smoke so let’s start changing it
If the intention is: give up smoking
New habit is: Reduce 2 cigarettes a day (this is why it is important to know how many you smoke so you can be accountable).
Other intentions expressed in a way to form new habits may look like this
If the intention is: Save for holiday
New habit is: Reduce takeaway coffees before work each day, the money you would have spent on coffee place into holiday saving fund
If the intention is: Learn to stress less
New habit is: Mediate each day for 5 minutes
By creating a new habit you give your willpower permission to cheer you on to bigger results.
2 – One at a time
Focus on one change at a time. Overloading yourself creates stress and burnout of willpower, you are far more likely to succeed if you achieve small goals that build to bigger results over a period of time.
So taking I want to be healthy example the first step may be to give up smoking this may take a few months for some. As you move through this phase however you are already increasing your health and can start to implement other lifestyle changes like diet or exercise
E.g.: swapping afternoon snack from chips to an price of fruit or going for a 20 minute walk each day
3 – Remove negativity
Thoughts are the key to success remove old thought patterns and surround yourself with positive people.
No matter if you think you CAN or think you CAN’T you are right.
Be mindful on which way your thoughts are heading. Notice when a negative self-talk appears and jump on it change it right away. Become your own cheer squad with positive self-talk. If you slip up or stumble along the way don’t beat yourself up, instead get up dust yourself off and get back on track. Set backs are not failure just an opportunity to see how far we have come. . Don’t allow negative people to squash you dream or plant seeds of doubt into your mind, if they relish in your failure rather than rejoice in your success they are not the people you want around.
4 – Attitude of gratitude
By expressing gratitude allows positive flow in one’s life. Give thanks for what you have achieved, for how your day progress. Be kind not just to those around you but to yourself as well. Start each day on a positive by listing what you are thankful for before you get out of bed. Notice the beauty that surrounds you each day, and end the day with thanks
5 – Be accountable and rewards
Be accountable for you new habits and the progress you make towards achieving your intentions. Celebrate small millstones along the way reward these achievements. Positive feedback is much more powerful that negative feedback so use it your advantage to help strength your willpower.
Finally – Breath
When stress attacks and the day is not going the way you want it to remember this is but a moment in time and you need to breathe through it.
Take a moment and sit and just focus on your breath, breathe in and out deeply 5 – 10 times, this process allows the mind time to slow so that you can gain a fresh perspective on things. If need be get outside and go for a walk to clear and calm your mind. Stress happens to everyone a key way to keep it at bay is to breathe and include meditation in your daily routine.
Follow these simple steps and create new habits, which build willpower and replace old negative habits. As you achieve along the way forming a new habit your success rate goes up on achieving your New Year’s intention.