The Twelve Obstacles to Winning Resolutions

At this time of year, many of us make New Year's resolutions. But more often than not, we give up. Here are twelve ways that you sabotage your New Year's resolutions. 

1. Your Goals Are too Big

Big goals are the enemy of winning resolutions precisely because they are big, and hard to accomplish. Breaking down goals into small tasks we can succeed at increases motivation which leads to more work, creating an upward spiral. 

2. Your Definition of Success Is too Broad

When your definition of success is too broad, a win takes too long. Wins are motivating, so redefine success to create daily, or even hourly, wins. Rather than resolving to losing 25 lbs, commit to eating more vegetables today. Instead of defining a win as scoring a sale on the first call, redefine it as just making a connection.

3. You Procrastinate

We procrastinate to avoid anxiety or fear. Break down your goals into small enough tasks that you know you can succeed at. This will reduce or eliminate the anxiety or fear about starting the task.

4. You're Using Willpower

People who excel at willpower have learned better habits. They structure their lives in a way to avoid having to make a self-control decision in the first place. The really good dieter, for example, doesn't keep forbidden foods in the house.

5. You Focus on What Attracts Your Attention

Whatever catches our attention in the moment is what we focus on. This is called the "focusing illusion." And it can lead us to the mistaken belief that something is important merely because we have been led to give it attention by something irrelevant, even our own internal thoughts. So be vigilant about what catches your attention.

6. You Need to "Feel Like It"

We're not thinking machines that feel. Rather, we're feeling machines that think. This explains why change is hard. Logically, we know what we should do but our feelings about doing it make our decisions for us. How we feel in the moment is almost never aligned with our goals and dreams. If we only act when we feel like it, you will never get what you want. We don’t have to feel like doing what we need to do: We just have to put one foot in front of the other.

7. You Visualize Wrong

Visualizing standing on the podium or having the cheque in hand can actually lead to worse performance than if we hadn't visualized at all. That's because we have a decrease in energy when we visualize success, as if we had already succeeded. Rather than visualizing success, visualize the steps you need to take to have the success.

8. You Neglect Your Physical Wellbeing

When we neglect our physical health, our performance suffers. That's because your physical health "is the basis for every thought and perception you have.” To optimize performance, make sure that you're eating well, exercising, and getting adequate sleep.

9. You Spend too Much Time on Social Media

We can "catch" emotions through social media, without our awareness. This is called social contagion and it can affect our motivation and our progress. It can also make us more susceptible to depression. So be vigilant about reading negative posts. 

10. You Haven't Organized Your Environment

Thomas Leonard has said that the environment always wins. That's because your decisions are influenced by what's around you. If your environment is not organized in a way to support your resolutions, you'll fail. So organize a winning environment.

11. You Don't Have a Routine

Routines help us not to have to think. That's because doing is easier than thinking. Thinking increases the cognitive load so we do what we did last time. But we can purposely create winning routines and increase our ability to do the necessary action. "This is how routines trick our mind into forming new habits and changing long-term behaviour."

12. You're Too Hard on Yourself

People who forgive themselves for procrastinating are less likely to procrastinate on their next task. If you fail, forgive yourself and try again.

Do you have New Year's resolutions that are important to you?

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