New Year's Resolutions
It is that time of year again…. the time of year when many of us create New Year’s resolutions. We do this with the best of intentions as a way to motivate ourselves and move toward an improved self. The problem is that many times this results in a “false hope syndrome,” in which our resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with what we can really achieve. When the goal is out of alignment with a realistic and sustainable approach to living, we experience a sense of failure when it does not work out The sense of failure (real or not) does not help to build our confidence and belief in ourselves.
Here are 5 tips to help you avoid the False Hope Syndrome as the New Year approaches:
- Look at your thinking. Making a resolution work involves changing behaviors, and in order to change our behavior we must change our thinking. In other words, we need to rewire our brain and reinforce new neural pathways to help us change habits. The reality is, re-wiring the brain takes time, persistence, and hard work. The entire process is non-linear. Knowing this and expecting it to be a long-term commitment can set us up for more success in the face of challenges.
- Shift from a restriction mindset (i.e., what you can’t have) to an abundance mindset (i.e., all of the positive self-care behaviors that you can have). An abundance mindset may focus on things like: drinking water hourly, trying new recipes, adding in an extra cup of vegetables, etc.
- Reframe your view of New Year’s Resolutions. This is not a quick fix to undo a month of indulgence but rather a “boost” or a “re-set” on your lifelong journey toward greater health and well-being.
- Avoid the All-or-Nothing Thinking trap. Think about the GPS in your car; if you make a wrong turn it does not call you a “failure” (or at least I hope yours doesn’t!), but rather it tells you to “make the first legal U-turn.” It is the same thing with a commitment to healthy eating and exercise. Be kind with yourself. A step off the track is to be expected! It is how quickly we can get back on track that matters.
- Be mindful. Focus on successes and your strengths between the overarching goals. Do not wait until you reach a goal to notice. Notice the small choices that you make on a daily, hourly basis that are supporting you. As humans, we tend to focus on the negative and forget to pause, and be mindful when we experience a positive event, no matter how seemingly small it may be. Again, by spending the time to focus on the positive, we are able to take small steps in the right direction. With this, we are more likely to internalize it and store it in long-term memory. Over time, these neural pathways become stronger and healthy habits will become easier.
- Kim Mueller, Registered Psychologist