January 4, 2014

6 Tips for a Successful New Year’s Resolution

As we begin a new year, many of us are inspired to make resolutions so that we can lead happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives. But as the weeks roll on, it’s inevitable that temptation will rear its ugly head and the majority of us will give in and take a drag of that cigarette, cancel our gym membership, or devour that cupcake-or seven.

Here are my top 6 tips for sticking to your resolutions and making this year your best yet.

1. Make a Short List

Brimming with excitement about improving their lives, some people make very ambitious resolution lists that contain ten or twenty things they want to change. The trouble is that success of any kind requires sustained focus, and working on too many things will leave you overwhelmed and prevent you from making lasting gains. In fact, people who take on too much are often unconsciously engaging in self-sabotage. Trim down your list of resolutions to just one or two things and commit to them 100%.

2. Make a Long list

Once you have chosen your resolution, begin by creating a list of small steps you can start taking to make it happen. This is especially helpful if you are embarking on a project or new regimen but even if your resolution is something as simple as abstaining from alcohol, you can brainstorm a list of actions you can take that reinforce your new choice (ie: go to the movies with friends instead of the bar).

3. Get Clear About What You Want

Clarity is key. Saying “I want to exercise more often” is much less powerful than saying “I commit to spending three more hours each week on the elliptical”. Resolving to be kinder to others is wonderful, but deciding to pay five people a sincere compliment every day is even better. The more specific you get, the more you provide your unconscious mind with a well-defined goalpost that it can propel you towards.

4. Focus on the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Research in the field of neuroscience tells us that our brains operate on the principle of neuroplasticity. This means that the more we keep thinking a thought, the more we strengthen neural pathways in the brain that make it easier to trigger similar thoughts in the future. Just like when you pump iron to grow your biceps, if you consistently pay attention to what’s depressing about life, you’re literally bulking up your brain’s capacity to pick out the depressing parts of any situation. When you continue to focus on how good it will feel to have accomplished your goal, you are blazing the neurological trail to more positive thoughts that will inspire you to act on your goal.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Many of our unwanted habits are so unconsciously ingrained that we do them without even realizing it. Practicing mindfulness through meditation or breathing techniques is an great way to set you on a path of success. This article offers a powerful mindfulness exercise that can be done anywhere: Breaking Free of Bad Habits for Good

6. Forget the Setbacks

Cheating a bit or reverting to our old behaviors is not uncommon when forming new habits. What is uncommon is quickly forgetting about your setback and keeping your eye on the prize. Never allow a temporary screw-up to throw you off track. Remember that the most successful people have terrible memories!

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