How the brain interprets your resolution
Exercise more, lose weight, learn something new or quit smoking are some of the most regular resolutions made every year. People set out with great intentions and determination by the bucket load, resolute about making a big change in their lives.
Planning any changes in our lives, big or small, can lead to a range of feelings. Some people may feel unsettled, others may experience overwhelming fear and resistance. Everyone copes with change differently, even when we initiate that change ourselves.
In order to give ourselves the chance of making change a positive experience we need to reframe the changes in a way that does not tip us into our 'threat system'.
Maybe we could think of this differently.
What if we could reframe the way that our brain interprets resolutions?
Reframing your timescale
A lot of us tend to be either over eager when it comes to timescales or not give ourselves a timescale at all.
Instead, maybe we could think about how we would like our life to be, and what we would like to have achieved by the end of the year. This will give us time to prepare and takes a lot of the pressure off.
I believe we need to slow down and take stock of where we are now before making promises to ourselves that we are going to change. We need time to prepare our body and brain for the changes we wish to see in our lives. We can then start to put plans in place and work towards our goal step by step – no pressure. Can’t you feel the sigh of relief already?!
Reframing your goals
Similarly, many of us set a New Year's Resolution that is intended to be life changing. Whilst admirable, the task ahead can often feel overwhelming!
Firstly, think about the skills that you already have that could help you achieve your goal. This simple act can help you grow in confidence and plan forward.
Then, by breaking down your resolution into small steps you can reframe how your brain interprets the task ahead. Your end goal quickly turns into smaller more manageable accomplishments. You could even break down your year-long resolution into weekly or monthly goals. It all helps.
When making any change in life, the right support can make all of the difference. Maybe you could consider who can help you stay on track. Do you know any like-minded friends or family who are trying to reach the same goal? Could you work together and cheer each other on?
Instead of only focussing on the end goal, every small step you take towards your goal should be a moment of celebration. Being able to acknowledge the positives gives our body and brain a positive surge of dopamine, and this is what keeps us motivated. So celebrate - give yourself a reward! You are a step nearer your goal! You have achieved something!
How about creating a list of all the things you have achieved so far. Give yourself time to enjoy those moments and take in the positive. Create time for you.
Be kind to yourself
Finally, if you do trip up with your New Year's Resolutions please try to be kind to yourself.
Change takes time and is often challenging to achieve.
We should all leave room for mistakes and setbacks without being hard on ourselves. Maybe try to focus on what you have managed to achieve, and how those small changes will impact your life positively in the year ahead.