By Sophia Fromell
Certified Life Coach
It is again that time of the year. One year is gone and another is about to begin. As every year, most of us tend to look back at the year gone and beat ourselves up for what we have not managed to achieve. “I really should have gone to the gym more often…”, “I should be spending more time with the kids and less time in the office…”and this is how a new year’s resolution is born.
We have all done it, year after year; setting up resolutions, only to see them abandoned. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 50% of the population makes resolutions each New Year, the most popular of which are: loosing weight, exercising more, spending less and saving more and stopping smoking.
Why do we make new year resolutions?
Research from the University of Scranton suggests that only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goals. If this is the case and new year’s resolutions are doomed to fail, then why bother?
New year’s resolutions have been a part of our tradition for much longer than we think. 4,000 years ago the Babylonians started the new year resolution traditions when in celebration of the coming new year, made promises to their gods in order to gain their favour. Later on, Julius Ceasar established the tradition of making resolutions on January 1st (however Romans mostly made morality-based resolutions, such as seeking forgiveness from their enemies).
In addition, a start to the new year is a great motivator for new beginnings. According to clinical psychologist John Duffy, Ph.D, even though the New Year is an arbitrary date, it gives us time and a goal date to prepare for the change, to fire up for the shifts we plan to make.
Why do new year’s resolutions fail?
Making resolutions, demonstrates hope and the belief in our ability to change and achieve more of what we want. So if we want to change for the better, why only such a small percentage of us achieves these goals?
When setting New Year’s resolutions, we look back at the year gone and we focus on all the things we have not done: not exercising, not eating healthy, not saving enough. Focusing on failure is not a great motivator. Instead, it creates negative emotions and a lack of motivation to achieve these goals.
So what is the alternative?
there are many different approaches on how to make new year’s resolutions work. Some suggest that breaking down the goal into smaller more achievable parts makes the whole process less onerous. Other suggest that selecting resolutions what do not have a delayed effect are more better as we can see the results of our effort sooner and hence get motivated to try harder.
My personal favourite is visualisation. Forget about the failures of the year gone and instead focus on what you want to achieve in the coming year. Using visualisation, try to picture yourself in the new year the way you want to be, following these steps:
Using breathing exercises, take a few moments to relax. Now try and picture yourself as you would like to be in the new year. Picture your life, career, relationships and experiences. Do not forget to visualise your free time as well (provided that you want to have some). Don’t waste your energy thinking about how you’ll get to achieve the picture of your vision. The important part is the end result.
Make sure you are clear and specific on what you visualise. Focus on what you want instead of what you do not want (visualise more savings instead of less debt). Use your senses to enhance the reality of the picture you’re visualising: picture your whole day in detail; hear the conversations; see the people around you; feel the sensations. Deploy all your sense to help you visualise and experience the new you. Focus on how the new you feels.
Remember that for the subconscious mind everything happens in the present, so experience the visualisation as if it is happening now.
Repeat this exercise as often as you can.
Does it work?
Visualisation is a powerful technique used by sports psychologists to help improve athletic performance. A number of great athletes from Muhammad Ali and Michael Phelps to Jonny Wilkinson and Andy Murray use imagery to prepare for games.
It is now scientifically proven that we stimulate the same brain parts when we visualise an action and when we actually perform it. Take the time to practice your visualization and you will be surprised by the results; your brain will act in accordance with your visions.
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