HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I am sure a lot of you made resolutions to be more organized, to be better about self-care, to never scream or say "NO" to your children (I did last year and gave that one up by 715am on January 1st, 2017), to exercise more, to eat better, to drink more water, to not look at your phone in bed, to spend less money, to stick to your priorities ...etc etc. It's barely 2018 and I already feel burnt out by all the things I feel like I could be doing better. If you are like me, read on to find out some tips that just might help us increase the odds of even sticking to ONE of the things we are telling ourselves that we must do better this year.
5 Ways Science Can Help You Stick To Your New Year Resolutions
1.) KEEP IT SHORT AND ACTIONABLE
Instead of making general goals, try tailoring your resolution to something concrete and actionable such as, run twice a week instead of exercise more. Instead of saying I want to eat better this year, you can try replacing that by making a goal to eat one piece of fruit at breakfast or drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Whatever the goal, keeping it realistic will help you actually achieve your resolution. According to psychologist Peter Herman (University of Toronto), the cycle of setting goals that are too hard to achieve, failing, then trying to make another resolution again is called “false hope syndrome”. The best way to avoid the trap of being hopeful then blaming yourself for not achieving those goals is to keep your resolutions realistic.
2.) SETTING THE WHEN AND WHERE
It is hard to read but not hard to believe that research shows only about 8% of people who make resolutions actually accomplish them. In a study performed by the British Journal of Health Psychology, people who set an intention of WHERE and WHEN to do something, has a much better chance (91% exactly) of accomplish those goals.
As reported by habit expert, James Clear, in order to give yourself a better chance of creating a new habit, you need to be very clear about when and where you are going to carry out those actions. For example, if you wish to exercise more, you need to schedule your work out into your work week and attend to it just as you would anything else on your calendar.
3.) HAVE A BACK UP PLAN
You are reading this blog because you are going to have a kid, you have a kid or you have more than 1 kid. No matter where you are on your journey of motherhood, the one thing we can all agree on is that plans are a joke. I can make short & actionable goals with my WHEN and WHERE like exercise at 915am every Monday and Wednesday for 25 minutes on the treadmill in the gym downstairs but I'm pretty sure that once I make those plans, more often than not, my kids will be puking and peeing on me at 913am on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Instead of feeling like a failure and derailing from your goals all together, make back up plan options so that you do not automatically jump to the feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to accomplish your goals. If I miss my 25 minutes of work out on Monday mornings, I will do 10 minutes of jumping jacks when they are in the bath this evening and go for a 15 minutes run before pick up on Tuesday. If that doesn't work - I will do 50 sit ups and 10 push ups while watching TV after the kids have gone to bed and do a 7-minute work out from my Freeletics app in the living room before the kids wake up on Tuesday morning.
Setting the WHEN AND WHERE for your back up plan will help increase your chance of achieving your overall goal.
4.) ELIMINATE YOUR OPTIONS
This tip been very popular in the media since people starting noticing that Steve Jobs always wore the same turtleneck and that Mark Zuckerberg is never without his gray t-shirt and hoodie. In a popular study by American Psychological Association, willpower is directly linked to the amount of decisions you have to make each day. The brain is a muscle and "decision fatigue" is a real thing - the more choices and decisions we make, the less willpower we have to do the things we want to do. This is the reason why you see a lot of high level executives (including Obama!) wear the same outfits everyday in order to eliminate the number of decisions they have to make in a day.
In order to translate this into something tangible, an example would be instead of saying I want to eat better this year, start out by finding a week's worth of healthy recipes, buying only the items on those recipes and following them everyday. You will not have to think about what to eat when meal time comes around and you will only have the ingredients to make the recipes that you decided upon.
5.) MAKE ONE CHANGE AT A TIME
Most mothers go into the automatic panicky list making mode the second they wake up: what time is it, how much time for breakfast, what to make for breakfast, get baby dressed!!!, what to wear?, what should i wear?, do I even have time to shower?, oh no, she peed on herself again!, get dressed again, what to wear? is it snack time already? what to give her? - let's just say the brain is processing and trying to manage every micro second to keep our helpless babies alive. So everything else in our lives tend to not function as efficiently as it once did before you had your kids. When resolution time comes around, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to change everything and "get things back to the way they were."
A very wise mom (also with 2 young kids) told me at the end of the year when I was going into my panicky OMG kids?!??! career?!?! a clean house?!?! 2018 has got to be better, RIGHT!?!??!?! She told me about her decision to scale back certain aspects of her life because she realized that we can have everything we want and wish for, but maybe just not all at the same time. TRUTH.
So, the next time you have a spare moment to yourself, reflect on the pressures that have been put on women to accomplish every single role that we can assume with increasingly high standards and maybe just throw away that list of resolutions and pick one that makes you feel passionate about accomplishing. -xoxo