It’s 2019…another new year and this is the time that most people plan and start their resolutions, it may feel refreshing to know that this is another fresh start which can motivate people hugely however, sticking to them throughout the whole of the year can be quite a challenge. There has been studies done that show around 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail! (not trying to put a downer on the new goals.) There is hope despite all this as resolutions fail due to people’s willpower and you can actually help your brain to take more control of your willpower and therefore have more of a chance of actually sticking to the resolutions you have set for yourself. That’s what this post will be all about…taking control of your willpower.
Your brain and Willpower
There is a logical reason why resolutions can be so hard to stick to and it’s all down to willpower being a hard thing to develop and keep. The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain which also deals with creating willpower. It is the area of your brain which is used to solve complex problems, responsible for helping you concentrate and it also supports your short term memory. There’s alot going on in this area of your brain so sticking to your resolutions is probably not on your prefrontal cortex’s top priorities. Despite this you can actually take control of your willpower yourself by doing various things to make your New Year’s resolutions more stickable.
8 Ways to Take control of your Willpower
Below are just a few ways of how you can take control of your willpower which will hopefully mean that you have more of a chance to stick to your resolutions for a much better length of time and actually see your end goals being achieved whatever they are.
- Small Changes – Why not strengthen your willpower daily by making small changes first to simple tasks that you do almost subconsciously to break up their patterns. For example you could brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand or get out of bed on the other side than you normally would. These simple little tasks will cause your brain to feel more receptive to change as the break up of your normal pattern would of been disrupted. By doing this it will actually exercise your prefrontal cortex. Just remember to only give yourself two or three small changes as it can get tiring to continue to do them after a while.
- Exercise It – Willpower is strengthened by exercising it like I mentioned above, but if you over stretch it with too many new tasks to do (like a muscle with too much exercise) then it will most likely fail. So give yourself small changes to stick to.
- Need It and Want It Yourself – Sounds simple right? Do something because YOU want it or need it, but so many people do make resolutions that other people suggest they should do. If you make resolutions that are to please other people then it is highly unlikely you will stick to them. You need to have that desire for change yourself. If you want it and need it for yourself then you are more likely to succeed in making that change rather than just setting yourself a change which someone else has mentioned you should do but deep down not wanting to do it. Make sure that you make a resolution which you feel will bring something really positive into your own life to motivate you and remind you of your end goal and the reason it will beneficially impact your life. Your own heart has to be fully in it in order for the change to work out long term.
- Beware of Sabotage – Tiredness, stress and low blood sugar can all be things that sabotage your resolutions. It is a known fact that when we are stressed or hungry or tired then we make much poorer decisions and this can really hinder your goals. So make sure you are taking good care of yourself and staying in tip top condition the best you can.
- Eat Healthy – I know your probably thinking how will this help my willpower but there has been studies done that show we are far more likely to make good decisions when we are eating healthily ourselves. There are many reasons for this like better blood sugar balance, better hormonal balance, lower levels of inflammation and so much more. So yes load your plate up with goodness of whole foods and lots of yummy vegetables.
- Be That ‘Early Bird’ – It is known that we have the most willpower when we wake up first thing in the morning. So if one of your resolutions is to; include more exercise into your routine then why not do this first thing in the morning before you go to work or start your day. Obviously this won’t suit everyone’s lifestyle or preference but if you can work on your resolution in the morning then it’s worth doing if that’s the time we usually have the most willpower.
- Buddy Up – I have heard before that doing a new year’s resolution with somebody else or with a group of people really motivates you to stick to it for a variety of reasons like; not wanting to let the other person down so you make sure your there too or knowing that the others are doing it too so your all in this together.
- Give Yourself Rewards – Brains respond to positive reinforcement (abit like a puppy does when puppy training) so reward your good behaviour. Set yourself little checkpoints that if you reach them you can give yourself a healthy reward/treat for doing so and sticking to it. For example; Your resolution maybe to include a daily meditation session in your routine…If you have been meditating for 10 days in a row them creatively think of a little reward to give yourself for doing so. Then set your days in a row to 20 straight before giving yourself another positive reward.
If you have come across my other previous New year posts in the past you will know that I personally view the new year as a time to nourish and look after yourself instead of setting yourself too many resolutions to strictly try and follow. But I also do occasionally make a new year resolution myself if I feel like there is something I want to achieve by the end of another year. This post was mainly written for people who do love the new year resolution tradition and I was hoping to give some advice about willpower so it helps you to stick with your goal as best as possible. I’m not an expert with resolutions but I do hope you find these tips to strengthen your willpower helpful and hopefully some of these give you that extra bit of motivation to stick to the resolutions you have set for yourself if you have chosen to do them this year.
Also remember that although most people decide to make a change/goal in their life when a new year hits or at the beginning of a new month or new week…there is no set time to start. You never have to wait for a new year to come back around or a new month if you do find yourself not succeeding. Everyday is a new day so if you do fail and want a fresh start why not start on a Wednesday? Why do you have to wait till next Monday comes back around? Really you can start again on any fresh new day!