How to keep New Year's resolutions?

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How to keep a resolution

According to a questionnaire from the end of 2019, 42% of Czechs aged 15-59 (1053 respondents) made a New Year's resolution. However, almost a third are convinced that their resolutions will only last a few days.

Lose weight 12%
Eat healthier 10%
Stress less 9%
Stop smoking 8%
More sports 7%
More sleep 5%
A little motivation to get started

Resolutions at the beginning of the year are statistically 10x more likely to stick than those made at any time of the year. So how do we make sure we stick to our plans? First, we will briefly focus on why we have bad habits, even though we know they are bad for us. The most common resolution is changing bad habits for better ones.

We automatically prioritize completing tasks and doing activities that bring us immediate benefits (under the word benefit in this case we can imagine something that makes us feel good - usually a feeling). Evolutionarily, it helped to survive. Therefore, even if we logically know that the given thing is harmful to us in the long term, we will not stop doing it, because our body perceives an immediate benefit.

All things - even the harmful ones that we want to change - bring us some pluses, otherwise we wouldn't do them. It's just that they will bring us problems later, which we know logically, but we don't feel it emotionally.

It is important to remember that we are not coded to smoke or constantly check Instagram. In reality, these are basic needs like reducing stress and being socially accepted. And now to the point.

How to complete a resolution?

For clarity, we present the tips as a list of steps, but not all of them can always be used.

1. Find an alternative

Find an alternative to a bad habit that will bring us the same immediate benefit but will not harm in the long term. It is necessary to figure out what the bad habit brings us. Does it reduce our stress? Does it kill boredom? Saves time?

2. Be specific and write everything down

Be specific and write down your resolutions on paper or electronically. People who write down their resolutions have a 40% higher success rate. At the same time, you need to be as specific as possible! "Exercise more" or "lose weight" is so general that we don't really know what to do and slip into our old ways. However, "going to the gym 3 times a week" is much easier to achieve - because it tells us exactly what to do and how often. It will also help you determine the day and time (for example, for sports). "Go to yoga on Monday at 4 pm" is a little easier than "go to yoga once a week".

3. Customize the environment

Adapt the environment to make fulfilling the new habit as easy as possible. If we want to eat healthy, then don't buy unhealthy things, or put them in a drawer in the refrigerator, and vegetables, on the other hand, on a shelf in front of your eyes. If we want to do sports, it's good to always have a gym bag ready (running shoes, yoga stuff...). Agree on a sport with a partner and spend time with people who have similar goals. Last but not least, adapting the environment so that our "bad habits" do not have to be as simple as, for example, deleting the FB application from the mobile phone. Even such a small obstacle as checking social networks only on the PC or having to deny training to a partner works wonders in the final.

4. Come up with a reward

Come up with a reward for the new habit. Because often a new habit is not as satisfying on an immediate level as an old habit. That's why it's good to come up with a reward as motivation, like a good protein after a workout or an evening series after a day of honest learning.

5. Keep a calendar/record

Keep a calendar/goal record and honestly cross off each accomplished day. The visual form in the calendar will give us motivation, and ticking off will give us satisfaction. Moreover, in the future, when our initial motivation drops, we will realize what we have already managed so far. From the beginning, it helps to make a regular habit a reminder from the beginning, so that we don't forget or postpone the activity unnecessarily.

For this, you can use our small planner , in which you can write everything down.

6. It's not about willpower!

It's not about willpower! Willpower is a limited resource and we all sometimes have a bad day, are tired, etc. It is necessary to accept in advance that sometimes we will miss sports or go to fast food with friends. The important thing is not to see it as a failure. It happens to everyone! But we can learn why the failure happened and prepare for it next time, if possible. The main thing is to bounce back and persevere.

7. Step by step

Step by step. If we want to change, it doesn't mean that we have to turn 180 degrees from day to day. On the contrary, too big a change will discourage us. If we want to persevere, it is best to take small steps. And if we improve in something every day even by 1% (it will take really little time at first), in a year it will still be hugely noticeable! It is ideal to start really slowly, 2 minutes of reading before bed or 10 minutes of running and increasing it every other day. The graph shows an improvement of 1% per day for a whole year.

Chart of 1% improvement per day

8. Stacking

Stacking is a way to instill a new habit. It is a continuation of the old and well-established one. If we want to read before bed every day, we can use the routine of brushing our teeth and read for 2 minutes right after. The brain gets used much easier than if the habit was formed by itself.

Summary:

  • To determine what a bad habit brings us as an immediate benefit, to find a suitable alternative.
  • Think of specific steps and write them down in as much detail as possible.
  • Customize the environment to the maximum
  • Come up with a reward for fulfillment and keep a record
  • Make small changes and accept the occasional failure
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