Happy New Years. Like many millions of Americans I love to make a New Year’s resolution. Well more like two or three. And with out a doubt these resolutions never seem to stick. So despite the repeated failings, I keep on trying. Did you know that apparently making resolutions—and breaking them—is hard wired in our brains.
Why We Make A New Years Resolution
So apparently when you make a New Year’s resolution, you feel good about it at that moment. For instance you know that if you start eating healthy you are going to feel better in the long run. The problem is that when you actually start to eat healthy, the action itself doesn’t make you feel good. You loose that instant gratification, because vegetable are usually not as satisfying as a large piece of chocolate cake. So you put it off.
And there is the force of habits. In simple terms, habits are connections of neurons that work together that have been beneficial to us over time. The more we execute the habitual behavior, the stronger those neuronal connections in our brains become. So it becomes hard to break them and also to create new ones.
The key, is to loosen the connection between the neurons that form these habits. One way of doing this is through mindfulness, meaning trying to see things in an unbiased way. We often associate certain behaviors or actions—like going eating healthy—with negative thoughts. Over time, this connection strengthens and the association between eating healthy and boring becomes an automatic thought. As a result, not eating healthy becomes a routine habit. However if we give eating healthy an unbiased second chance, we’ll realize we could just as easily associate with neutral or even positive thoughts.
So this year, I am going to commit to eating a healthier diet. I have made this resolution in the past but it really never stuck well. I think this year is going to be different though.
First of all I am making a strong commitment to make a change. I must believe that I can accomplish what I set out to do. And I really do feel confident that I can do it
Second of all, I think I am being realistic. I know I can obtain a healthier diet if I try hard enough. I have done it in the past.
We all know that being prepared is the key, so I am going to make a plan. This will help me articulate what I really want to achieve and how I will go about doing it. A key for me is to start by envisioning where I want to be, and how I will get there from where I am today. First of all I need to stock my kitchen with healthy foods and get rid of all the junk food.
But I also know I need to be flexible. Not everything will work out precisely the way I planned. I know when I am to rigid in my approach, the first minor obstacle will through me completely of course, such as when I go out to dinner with friends. I need to create an alternative plan for those events. This way I can handle any obstacles that come my way.
So will my resolution stick? Well lets hope so. And I hope stay and read my future blog posts to see if I was able to.