Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change A Lot, and Professor of Psychology at Hertfordshire University says that that all too often New Year’s resolutions fail because people try to do too much too soon and don’t seek the right support to help them achieve their goals.
Following his recent research carried out in conjunction with NHS UK Health Campaigners Change4Life, of monitoring 2,000 people for 2 weeks as they tried to make a healthy change to their behaviour it was found that people who rely on willpower alone are much less likely to succeed than those who try other techniques like telling their friends, rewarding themselves for making progress and removing temptation from their surroundings.
He advises we pick just one resolution and focus our energies on it rather than spreading ourselves too thin among a number of different objectives.
As reported in the Sun newspaper (UK), here are Professor Wiseman’s 10 ways to keep your resolutions:
Many of us make the mistake of trying to achieve too much instead of deciding on what is important to us and making just one resolution.
The chance of success is greater when we channel our energy into changing a single aspect of our behaviour at a time.
Find a way of charting your achievements. Keep a journal, or cover your fridge or notice board with graphs or pictures.
Repeating resolutions you have failed to keep before is a recipe for disappointment. Set a new goal, or approach an old aim in a new way. For example, instead of trying to lose a set amount of weight, vow to exercise more.
Think about exactly what you are going to do, where and when. Vague plans fail. For example, instead of saying that you will go running on two days each week, decide you will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays straight after work.
Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based (SMART). For example, instead of simply saying you want to find a new job, come up with bite-sized goals for each week, such as rewriting your CV then applying for a job each week.
Map out small steps that will slowly but surely take you to where you want to be, write them down and stick to the plan.
Carrot, Not Stick
Motivate yourself by focusing on the positive, rather than beating yourself up about your failings. Think how much better life will be for you, and those around you, when you achieve your aims.
Many of us prefer to keep our New Year’s resolutions to ourselves. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy to simply forget about them. Instead, go public. Write down your resolution on a large sheet of paper, sign it, and place it somewhere prominent in your home.
Tell your friends, family and workmates and ask them to support you. For example, if you want to lose weight, ask colleagues not to offer you biscuits with your tea.
New habits take time to learn, and once in a while you will slip up and revert to the old you. Most of us give in to temptation occasionally, whether it is a cream cake or a crafty cigarette.
Get Image Conscious
Visualise yourself doing whatever you need to do to achieve your resolution. Focusing on this image will help you believe in your ability to succeed.
You will get better results from thinking about the good things that will come from your new lifestyle rather than the negative aspects of your old habits .