The New Year brings a fresh burst of inspiration and motivation to make positive changes in our lives. These ambitions can energize us, but they can also be a source of struggle, burnout, and self-criticism when our progress doesn’t manifest as we imagined. Statistics report that the majority of people who make New Year’s resolutions in January, have let them fall by wayside by June or July.
Why is it hard to stick to goals?
The truth is, old habits are hard to break, and new ones can be just as hard to adopt. As creatures of habit, we often seek comfort in the familiar, regardless of how it affects our health, and we tend to avoid the unknown—simply as part of our innate survival drive. That’s why it’s so important to create goals that you can align yourself with and truly get behind with energy and enthusiasm.
Brain Hacks to Help You Achieve Your Goals
These tips for goal setting and hacking your will power can help you create a plan for success with any new goal, no matter how big or small.
Check in with your motivations—Taking the time to check in and understand our true motivations can be an eye opening experience. Are you setting a resolution because it speaks to you on deeper level? Or are you setting goals that feel more like expectations, rather than dreams? Understanding and aligning with our true motivations can help us stay focused and accountable, and deepen our commitment to achieving something significant.
Focus on one goal at a time—The fresh energy of the New Year can inspire grand visions and elaborate plans for making our dreams a reality. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when we try to make numerous big transformations all at once. Instead, experts recommend breaking big plans into smaller, simpler goals that can be accomplished one at a time, rather than trying to make sweeping changes that can easily overwhelm you.
Plan for success—Every goal needs a plan of action to help navigate common pitfalls, and chart your path to success. Take some time to research your goal and any troubleshooting advice first, spend time planning the steps, and strategize how you’ll fit them into your daily habits. With a solid blueprint in place, you’ll have a clear roadmap to guide you on your way, and help you get back on track if you veer off course.
Try something new—If you’re making the same resolution year after year, it might be time to try something new. Statistics show that trying to revive an old resolution that was unsuccessful in the past, is less likely to bring success despite a renewed commitment. Instead, experts recommend switching up your goals and trying to accomplish something you haven’t done before, even something small. The confidence boost you’ll get from accomplishing a new goal can help power your motivation and commitment to try something harder.
Balance stress—Stress is exhausting, and in addition to zapping energy, it can deplete your motivation. Willpower, like so many other things, often fails when we’re trapped in survival mode and facing acute or chronic stress. When this happens, we are vulnerable to falling back into familiar patterns, even if we know they’re not healthy. Research shows that mindful meditation stress relief practices help to strengthen parts of the brain involved in self-control. Herbal extracts like pure honokiol are also powerful daily natural strategies to help calm anxiety and boost mood when stress is taking a toll.
Start early in the day—Motivation and will power are like fuel that runs out, especially by the end of the day. Research shows that early mornings are when energy and motivation is highest. By evenings, many people have lost much of their self-control, and even motivation to achieve their goals. Work on completing goal-related tasks earlier in the day if possible, and allow yourself to bask in your success at the day’s end.
By incorporating mind-body tips and mental strategies like these, you can help overcome some of the most common obstacles that may otherwise derail your New Year’s goals and resolutions. Above all, it’s important to practice love and compassion for yourself, and others, as a way to strengthen your mind and body, and support greater motivation and harmony in your life in general—which can bring increased benefits in all areas.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year!