Ease with your resolutions will make them work

There are always aspects of our lives where we like to do better. Maybe you want to go to bed earlier, eat healthier, drink less. Or be friendlier to your partner or colleague when under stress. Maybe you finally want to finish that project or your website.

Although you can make resolutions any time of the year. Collectively we have decided that the New Year may be a good moment to make plans for those changes in our lives. And by now, you may have find yourself breaking some of your desired changes already.

Below six tips to make your resolutions work…..

1. Pick the right moment to start

You may wonder: What is the right moment? Make changes in your life when you feel good. If you are already stressed or tensed, the chances of falling back into old and automatic behaviour are much bigger than when you feel good, in flow and strong. Usually you will experience more space in your mind and body for new behaviours.

2. One at a time or maybe two

Any behaviour usually has had many repetitions before it turns into a habit. Those repetitions make that we have wired ourselves in behaving in certain ways without thinking about it. For example, when I get out of my front door, I automatically press the elevator button. I have to make walking the stairs a deliberate act until I rewire my system in a way that I automatically turn towards the stairwell door. This requires an equal number of repetitions as the old behaviour needed to become a habit.

3. Reward yourself for each (small) success

For a long time I would get annoyed with myself when I didn’t fulfil my resolutions. For example finding myself eating a whole chocolate bar when I decided to eat less sugar would irritate me. Nowadays I try to notice my behaviour in a neutral way. But more importantly, I give myself a compliment when I withhold myself of buying that chocolate bar or when I eat just one piece instead of the entire bar.

4. Visualise the outcome

Imagine you want to exercise more so that you can go on a particular hike this summer. Visualise the hike that you’ve been longing to do for so long. And embody this visualisation. How does it feel when you visualise this image? Does it feel spacious? Or light? Or do you feel excitement about the idea?  Any time when you have a hard time to pursuit your resolution go back to this image and feeling. It will give you renewed motivation to continue.

5. Involve the body

It is more likely to gain success when you involve the body, see also point 4. New behaviour is not just a thought or an idea. When you notice the pleasant experiences in your body it’s easier to persist. If you fall back into old behaviour you can use your physical sensations to experience what the old behaviour does to you. And, often when I am about to fall back in old behaviour and track my physical sensations and emotions it gives me insights about why I am resisting the new behaviour. For example I may be scared for success or to be excluded. And my old behaviour withheld me from this to happen.

6. Break you resolution down in manageable pieces

Loosing 5kg is much easier than loosing 25kg. Meditating for 15 minutes four times a week is much easier than the decision to meditate for the rest of my life. Or writing a chapter is easier to handle than to write a 400 page book.

Research has shown that it takes 21 days before new behaviour turns into a new habit. And it takes 6 months before it is part of your personality. Don’t be harsh on yourself and be patient.

Have fun making your resolutions work!

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