Why people can't keep their new year's resolutions

You want to lose weight in 2016, or maybe just eat healthier. Perhaps you want to spend less money or spend more time with your friends and family. Does this sound familiar?

The start of the New Year is often the perfect time to turn a new page in your life, which is why so many people make New Year's resolutions. But why do so many people have a hard time keeping their resolutions?

Researchers have looked at success rates of peoples' resolutions: The first two weeks usually go along beautifully, but by February people are backsliding. And by the following December most people are back where they started—often even further behind. Why do so many people not keep their resolutions? Are people just weak-willed or lazy?

Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or "rewire" your brain). The explosion of studies into how the brain works has more experts attempting to explain the science behind why we make resolutions—and more relevantly, how we can keep them. Even-though there are many reasons why we battle to keep to our resolutions, the main reason remains that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions.

Having said that, if you feel compelled to make New Year's resolutions, here's some tips to help you make them work:

  • Focus on one resolution and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 kilograms in 90 days would be.
  • Don't wait till New Year's eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day.
  • Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once.
  • Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you to whom you have to report.
  • Celebrate your success between milestones. Don't wait the goal to be finally completed.
  • Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits.
  • Focus on the present. What's the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
  • Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.

And finally, don't take yourself so seriously. Have fun and laugh at yourself when you slip, but don't let the slip hold you back from working at your goal.



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