How to stick to your New Year Resolution?

‘If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten’. Tony Robbins.

Happy New Year to you! I thought this would be an appropriate time to talk about New Year’s Resolutions. Why that is when we set New Year’s Resolutions, many of us give up within a few weeks? In short, it’s because we haven’t focused on the pleasure of the outcome, why we want to achieve it, and instead focused on the perceived pain of the process.

A few months ago, I got my NLP Practitioner and Life Coaching certifications were I attended lengthy hours of listening and learning from our Master Coach regarding humans and how we think, behave and what motivate us. Everything he said just makes complete sense and I find it hard to challenge any of it. That course was 10 days long and days were long, about 16 hours in fact, it’s intense! I’m not going to talk to you about that though, I’m going to talk about one of his points about what motivates us human beings.

One of the best things I’ve learned is that we humans are motivated by two key driving forces; pain and pleasure. To be more accurate, we are motivated by the need to avoid pain, and the desire to gain pleasure. Everything we do, every action we take and every decision we make is a result of one or both those two driving forces. Taking procrastination as an example, the reason we do that, is because we attach more pain to taking action, than we do pleasure of the outcome of completing the task. The pain of the process outweighs the pleasure of completing the task – that’s what we’ve made up in our head.

If we procrastinate about getting into peak physical shape, then the reason is because consciously or subconsciously, we’ll have attached more pain to the actions we need to take, such as exercising more and cutting back on foods that cause us to store fat. It might be that we perceive physical exercise as a chore and “going on a diet” as a pain in the backside. If you tell yourself you need to go on a diet, that’s immediately introducing pain into your life. You’ll regard “giving up” foods as a sacrifice and therefore that is a pain you have just introduced into your life. Therefore, procrastination wins.

The first important thing to do is to focus on the outcome and why you want to achieve it.

  • 92% of the 17 million people that try to quit smoking each year fail.
  • 95% of people who lose weight fail to keep it off long term.
  • 88% of people who set New Year’s resolutions fail at their attempt.
  • Only 10% of the population has specific, well-defined goals, but even then, seven out of the ten of those people reach their goals only 50% of the time.

Without a strong enough reason for achieving any outcome, then we’ll struggle to commit to the action required. If you want to get into peak physical shape, firstly be specific.

Does that mean a waist size, or chest size, or if you’re a woman, a dress size?

Next, ask yourself, why you want to get into great shape. If it’s just to look good, you’ll probably struggle to stay committed. If you tell yourself you want to look good so you can attract your perfect partner and keep them, then this may motivate you more. If you tell yourself you want to get into great shape so you’re irresistible to your partner, so you can have endless amounts of amazing love, then this might give you more drive! If you tell yourself you want to get into great shape, so you have more energy to spend quality time in a peak state, with those you love, as going hiking or skiing or playing football with your son, then that might be a solid reason for change. If you tell yourself you want to get into peak physical shape so you can be more productive and creative in your work, so you can be more fulfilled and earn more money, which will then mean you can then pay for your family to have amazing holidays, never have to worry about your food bills and always buy top quality nutritious food for their health, then that might give you a reason to commit! Whatever means most to you, attach those reasons and link them to your core, universal, needs like love and relationships, or financial security, or vitality.

It’s also worth reframing your actions of ‘ do more exercise’ and ‘dieting’ to something more positive like ‘being more physically active’ and ‘making smarter food choices’ because you can. When you’re more physically active, a whole lot of awesome things happen in your body; you’re able to focus and concentrate more, you get more creative and motivated, you become smarter as physical activity stimulates neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells. Your neuroplasticity also improves which is your ability to learn and remember. You put yourself into a better state and can think more clearly and optimistically. You reduce stress or alleviate it completely. When do you not feel better after exercise? According to Tony Shwartz who wrote The Power Of Full Engagement, aerobic exercise is the number one method for emotional renewal. These are just a few examples of the multitude of benefits of being more physically active – or ‘exercising more’. All of a sudden, being physically active is way more enticing.

By making smarter food choices, you’re able to fuel your body, your cells, your brain, your organs, your musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons etc). You’ll nourish your skin and be able to function optimally when you’re nourishing your body with micronutrients for example, rather than eating to ‘become full’ or for a sugar high from carbs or sugar which causes mood fluctuations and stress and an inability to concentrate and focus. By reframing these two things, you’re able to focus on the positive aspects of these changes, rather than the sacrifice (pain) of giving something up and exercising more.

My suggestions to commit to your New Year’s Resolutions and your 2017 goals: Get crystal clear on why you want to achieve the outcome, use pain and pleasure to serve you. As well as attaching pleasure to the outcome, ask yourself what pain you’ll experience if you don’t change, if you don’t commit. How will your life be then?

Write down as many reasons as you can for achieving the outcome and write down as many potential outcomes your life will be if you do not commit. For example, keeping in line with health, if you say to yourself: ‘If I don’t commit, and don’t lose this belly fat, this means my visceral fat will increase and my organs will be suffocated. I’ll stand a far greater chance of developing a disease due to inflammation as a result of my excess belly fat, and therefore my health will be at high risk, my children and loved ones will not have me around when they need me and then that might be a solid reason to commit.

We tend to be more motivated by the need to avoid pain as it’s a survival mechanism within our brain, the reptilian brain. It’s designed to keep us safe, in our comfort zone, or rather, what it already knows, in our zone of familiarity. Sometimes our comfort zone, really isn’t that comfortable at all!

I’d love to hear from you that your set goals will be reached and Happy New Year!

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