Most new years resolutions fail miserably.
Harsh. But it’s the truth. For every ten people that resolve to eat healthy, lose weight, quit smoking and improve their lives every January, nine of them will most likely have given up before the month is over.
But…you don’t have to be one of them. You just have to understand how to set your new years resolution correctly.
The Science Of Willpower
Most people think that achieving a new years resolution (or any change in their life) comes down to willpower. But few people stop to think about how willpower actually works.
And as it turns out, there’s a whole science behind it.
It works like this- think of willpower the same way you’d think about gasoline in a car. Every one of us has a certain amount of it every single day. As we go through our daily lives, every task we force ourselves to perform depletes our willpower, just like driving depletes the gasoline in our car.
Why You Should Set Modest Goals
For many people, new yeanew rs resolutions work something like this- they decided that, overnight, they’re going to go from being a couch potato to someone who eats clean 100% of the time, goes to the gym two hours per day, does yoga three times a week, and meditates every night.
The problem is that, following the car analogy, this is like trying to drive across the country on half a tank of gas. Remember, you only have a certain amount of willpower each day, and if you try to do too many things at once, you’ll find that you’ve burned through it all well before the day is over.
So, when it comes to your new years resolution, choose something small and modest.
How To Build Up Your Willpower Capacity
The good news is this- just like you can buy a car with a bigger gas tank, you can build up the amount of daily willpower you have available to you.
One of the easiest ways to do this is, instead of choosing one big new years resolution, choose a number of small, related 30-day resolutions and stack them on top of each other.
As an easy example, let’s say your new years resolution is to run a marathon. Your “mini resolution” for January might be to run one kilometre per day…that’s it. Not ten kilometres per day. One. Then in February, increase it to two. Then maybe four in March.
Build up slow and steady.
By gradually building up the amount of work you’re putting in, you’re also gradually expanding your willpower tank, making it far more likely that you’ll stick with it.
Create A Habit, Not A Goal
If you really want to make sure you’re successful with your new years resolution, consider changing not only how you go about it, but the resolution itself.
When most people think of a new years resolution, they tend to think of it in terms of a goal- “I will lose 20 pounds”. Or “I will earn another $10,000 this year”.
While that certainly can work, the problem is that a goal is an outcome. And at the end of the day, an outcome is something that is beyond our immediate control.
So, instead of setting a goal this year, try setting a habit. Instead of saying “I will to lose 20 pounds”, say “I will exercise 3 times per week and eat a proper breakfast every day”.
Or instead of “I will earn $10,000 this year” say “I will put in an extra hour of work every day”.
It’s a subtle shift, but one that’s important- by setting a habit, you’re setting something that is 100% entirely in your control. Just make sure that, like we mentioned, you set a manageable habit that you know you’ll be able to stick with.
Remember, while most new years resolutions fail, it doesn’t have to be like this. Manage your willpower, build up your resolutions slowly, and set habits rather than goals, and you’ll be on your way to a much improved you in 2018.