Do you remember your resolutions from last January? Did you stick to them? If you did, then very well done. If not, you are by no means alone. By January 17th (actually known as ‘Ditch New Year Resolutions Day’ by the way) only around one in ten of us will have stuck to our resolution. So, where are we going wrong?
Well, firstly, we tend to make a list of completely unrealistic goals with no real plan of how we will achieve them. Very often they involve denying ourselves something we really enjoy without thinking about how we will replace it. Also, as humans, we find big changes very difficult to handle, especially when we are feeling particularly emotional or have other problems that need our attention. It all becomes too much to handle and we tend to fall back on old habits such as smoking, drinking or comfort eating as a way of coping. The other problem is that the small part of our brain responsible for willpower (the pre-frontal cortex) has a lot going on. This is the part of our brain that determines our personality and holds our short term memories. It is constantly busy solving problems, planning our day and deciding how we interact with others. Burdening it with other responsibilities is sometimes just too much, especially without the help of the rest of the brain, which is often fighting against it. As much as the rational, pre-frontal cortex is saying, “No, you shouldn’t eat that chocolate cake,” the rest of the mind (around the other 90%) is telling us how much we REALLY want it and linking back to old memories of how good it tastes. You know what I mean. We’ve all been there!
So, with all this going on in our heads, is it ever possible to keep a resolution? Well, yes, I think it is. After all, some people do manage it. It just takes a little planning. Here are my top tips on achieving a successful New Year’s Resolution.
1. Only Make One Goal
Decide what you really want from life this year. What is most important to you? It has to be something you really want, or you are doomed to fail before you even start. Also, it has to come from you. If it is something you are doing for another person, then you may as well not bother. Focus on just one thing at a time. Saying that you are going to give up smoking, lose weight and start going to the gym twice a week is just not achievable. Start with the one that you think is most important. You can always make more changes later on.
2. Break It Down Into Smaller Steps
Decide how you are going to achieve your goal and take it one step at a time. Going cold turkey might not always be the best way. Perhaps you need to cut down slowly. So, make a plan and write it down.
3. Reward Yourself
If you are doing well, reward yourself with something you enjoy. Often, our resolutions involve giving up something we love. That is very difficult to do. So, when you have had a good day, treat yourself. It is important that we don’t feel we are denying ourselves, so think of ways of replacing the unwanted habit with something healthier. Make a list of other things you enjoy and make the time and effort to do them instead. It could be to buy something new with any money you have saved. Instead of a packet of cigarettes, buy yourself a favourite magazine, for example. It may be a massage or a luxurious hot bubble bath at the end of the day.
4. Set up Coping Strategies
When are your weakest moments? How are you going to get through them? You might arrange to call a friend or loved one to talk to when you are feeling that you need a little extra support. Perhaps you could try mindfulness exercises and practise just being in the moment. Often, a craving will pass if we just take some deep breaths and give it time.
5. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
If you have a bad day, it doesn’t matter. All is not lost! Just put it behind you and start again tomorrow.
How can Hypnotherapy Help?
The unconscious mind is responsible for so much, including habits and cravings. Somewhere, deep down, your mind has learned to associated the unwanted habits with pleasure and comfort and it has made you believe that you need these things in your life in order to survive or to be happy. Hypnotherapy helps by reaching deep into your unconscious and using suggestions to bring the rest of your mind in line with your conscious wishes and your rational thoughts. It means that you are not using just willpower alone. Of course, it isn’t a magic cure. You still have to really want the changes and put in the effort, but it can make your resolutions much easier to stick to. I can also teach you some NLP techniques to keep up your sleeve for those really tricky times!
If you would like to discuss how hypnotherapy and NLP can help you, please send me a message and we can arrange a free half-hour chat. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Happy New Year and Good Luck for 2017!