2015 is just around the corner, and with it comes those New Year’s Resolutions.
In 2014, The Journal of Clinical Psychology published that of all who set resolutions for the New Year, only 8% of people were successful in meeting them.
Why such a low number?
Sometimes the answer isn’t just as simple as “lack of determination.” There may, in fact, be small psychological triggers preventing you from achieving your goals. It may even boil down to the kind of words you chose when writing your resolutions.
Can you hack the mind and find a way out of the rut?
It’s easier than you think.
Simply follow these 12 hacks to accomplish your 2015 resolutions:
1. Write down what you specifically want.
2015 Resolutions need to be very specific so that you can have an exact target of focus. “Get a good work review” is too generalized and often does not compel the body and mind for action. Instead, try “score a 4.5/5 on a work review.” It is important that these are written down and not just ideas floating around in your head. Make it a true promise and commitment to yourself by keeping it in writing.
2. Use positive language, not negative
Words have meaning, and your subconscious plays a crucial role in hearing positive or negative language when it comes to setting resolutions. Words like “quit, limit, stop, never” and “lose” may set you up for failure. “Where attention goes, energy flows,” as the saying goes. If you tell yourself you will “quit playing video games,” you will be focusing your attention on the very thing you want to enjoy: playing video games. Out of sight, out of mind works better for these situations.
3. Have a compelling WHY
It is often difficult to pursue a resolution if we feel it’s a chore. Under these conditions, we can get lazy or make up excuses for not following through. If you make a commitment to “be more organized,” try writing out the reason WHY. It will remind you of the value of the goal. For example, try phrasing it the following way: “I’d like to be more organized so that I can effectively get my work done, be more productive, and reduce the anxieties of clutter.”
4. Make one change at a time
Most people make several resolutions, not just one. If your 2015 resolutions require a change of habit, honor the difficulty of the change and give yourself just one at a time to work through. Too much change is often difficult to commit to and quells the fires of your personal motivation.
5. Set a specific deadline
When we attach a specific deadline to our goals, they become real. If you have a goal to write a book, it will forever remain a lofty dream unless you give yourself a very specific, time constrained deadline. It often helps if the date has a significance to it, such as a birthday or anniversary, so that it remains an important day in your mind.
6. Be optimistic and realistic
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement”- Helen Keller. Being optimistic is crucial to following through with your goals, yet it is not sustainable on it’s own. Being overly optimistic can be a way of fooling yourself and setting yourself up for disappointment or self-punishment. Be realistic about what you are capable of, yet push yourself beyond your usual limits.
7. Set intermediate goals
Remind yourself that all resolutions are a journey, which takes careful determination. Sometimes this comes with slow and steady progress. Acknowledge your milestones and celebrate the mini victories along the way. If you intend to lose 60 pounds, celebrate and credit yourself for each time you lose 5 pounds.
8. Track and review your progress
One crucial component to goal setting (and sticking with it) is being able to quantify progress. We love seeing progress and proving to ourselves that we are indeed on the right track. If you intend to “save more money,” track the exact amounts you are putting into savings currently, and keep track of your progress over the next 6 months.
9. Avoid absolutes
Using absolute language such as “No Sugar” can produce a kind of anxiety around the resolution. Using negative language and putting an absolute on it may enhance the likelihood of indulging– almost more so than if you hadn’t even set the goal! Recognize that you are only human and should have a little bit of fun too. If you intend to eat healthier, allow yourself 1 ‘cheat day’ per week.
10. Don’t beat yourself up
When it comes to goal-setting, most of us adopt the “Go Big or Go Home” attitude. Don’t fret if you occasionally mess up or slip into your old habitual routine. After all, you can’t expect to be perfect all the time. Beating yourself up would only create more anxiety and give you an extra reason to abandon the goal all together. Acknowledge the brief slip up, and remember that each day is a new day.
11. Find an accountability partner
Finding a close friend who is also committed to a new goal can be extremely helpful. Hold each other accountable for your respective goals and organize mini check-ins. If you’re struggling, know that you can reach out to them for emotional support. They, probably more than anyone, know what you’re going through and will likely find ways to support and encourage you.
12. Celebrate your successes
Consider this to be the most important tip of all. Don’t underplay your successes. If you accomplish a goal, be proud to show it off and reward yourself. Celebrating and giving yourself positive reinforcement for an accomplished goal trains the brain to fall in love with “achieving.” You’ll be much more likely to accomplish any future resolution is you remember how good it feels to celebrate a job well done.