Are you making New Year's resolutions this year? Or are your clients? In a previous article, I listed twelve ways we sabotage our resolutions. Here are 10 ways to win at your resolutions.
1. Small is Beautiful
Break down goals into tiny steps. How tiny? Tiny enough to remove the fear factor. When our goals are too big, fear or anxiety can set in and we procrastinate. By breaking down goals into tiny steps, we increase our motivation which leads to more progress, in an upward spiral. The size of your steps is up to you. A winning strategy is to string together a series of tiny steps. That's how you accomplish big goals.
2. Make Sure You Have Daily Successes
Success motivates us to do more. So make sure your daily definition of success is easily achievable. That's because when we expect success, dopamine levels rise, which leads to more success. This doesn't mean that you've given up on your goal of losing 25 pounds or growing your sales, for example. It just means that daily success increases your chances of achieving your goals.
3. Don't Rely on Willpower
When things get tough, willpower will always fail you. Structure your life so that you avoid the temptation in the first place. Don't buy those cookies or don't open facebook on your work computer. Having cookies in the cupboard or keeping facebook open means that you have to continuously make decisions to not eat a cookie, or to not go on facebook. Eventually, you will fail.
4. Create an Environment for Success
Thomas Leonard, one of the fathers of coaching, wrote that "The environment always wins." Make it easy to win: Don't keep forbidden foods in the house; organize your work space to have everything you need so you don't get distracted by searching for items; keep your workout clothes all in one place that you can get to easily.
5. Visualize the Right Way
Visualize the steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Research shows that, when you visualize having already won, you make it less likely that you'll succeed at your goal.
6. Eat Well, Exercise, and Get Enough Sleep
That's because your physical health "is the basis for every thought and perception you have.” To optimize your performance, optimize your health.
7. To Change Your Mindset, Just Start
Are you someone who needs the right mindset before you can start? If trying to conjure up the right mindset doesn't work for you, just starting on a tiny task that's easily achievable can change your mindset. Succeeding on a task, even a tiny one, increases motivation which leads to more progress in an upward spiral.
8. Create a Routine
Routines make it easier to do the necessary things, avoiding willpower. And they reduce cognitive effort, freeing up our mental energy for more difficult tasks. Many aspects of our lives are already routinized: Meal times, work times, school times. Routines for when you work out, for when you make your sales calls, for adding an extra vegetable to your meals will make it easier to win at your goals. "This is how routines trick our mind into forming new habits and changing long-term behaviour."
9. Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
We're only human, after all. People who forgive themselves for procrastinating are less likely to procrastinate on their next task. If we give into temptation, it's not forever: It's just this one time. So forgive yourself and move on.
10. Take the "How to Create Effective Habits" Course
In this 3 session course, we go into the latest neuroscience strategies for creating strong habits so you can have greater success at your resolutions. We look at the inner and outer games of habit forming, methods for creating strong habits, and ways for overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves.
Here's where you can learn more about this and other courses offered at The Neuroscience School.