Keeping Your New Year Resolutions

notebooks on the table

It is that time of the year that resolutions get made. We do this with great enthusiasm. Anything new thrills us. A new movie, a new restaurant opening in town, a new dress, a new baby, a new year.

We are excited. We have great hope that it will be better than what we are used to. We want things to be better and we start by writing new year resolutions. And for the first week or two, we keep at it. Some of us get to a month before falling back and not long after that giving up on their resolutions.

Why many of us fail to keep up our resolutions is not a mystery. While we are good at writing resolutions and were told to aim big, we fail to understand how things work.

We humans do not like sudden changes.  The human brain is a supreme pattern seeking biological machine. It is always scanning for patterns and the reason it does that is because patterns mean certainity. Humans like certainity. Certainity feels safe. And safety means we can pursue other things in life.

When we jump with all guns blazing into something new, the established daily pattern is now disrupted, and our brains don’t quite like it. It doesn’t feel safe, and it will do everything to bring you back to the safety or the normal routine.

There is a simple way to around this. Approach your resolutions in small steps. Say you made a resolution to exercise 30 minutes everyday from 1st January 2023. If you haven’t been exercising or only doing it when you feel like it, this is quite a disruption to your daily routine. Many will give up witin 10 days. It is much easier to start by exercising just 5 minutes and slowly increasing it to a full 30 minutes.

Tell yourself that you will just do it for 5 minutes and keep to that time as long as you are comfortable, but do it daily, no matter what. You are now establishing a new pattern but rather than shocking your brain, you are slowly training it to accept this new routine.

This method of small steps can be used for all of your other resolutions. If you have a goal to read for an hour everyday, it is better to start with 10 or even 5 minutes if reading was never your thing before this.

All great achievements were done in small steps at a time. Humans did not go straight to the moon after the Wright brothers cracked the problem of flight but it took many technological develop,ments over the decades before Neil Armstrong made that giant step for mankind.

Have big resolutions but do it slowly and in small steps.