Take Time To Reframe Your Resolutions
The start of a new year is the perfect time to set new goals, create new habits, turn over a new leaf, and become a new version of yourself, right? Well…maybe. Whether or not you are one of the millions of people around the world who set resolutions each year, you’re likely well aware that the vast majority of new year’s resolutions are quickly abandoned.
With that being said, if you are one who likes the practice of setting resolutions, then there are tips and tricks you can use to help yourself stick to them. One of the most powerful tricks is learning to reframe your resolutions so they work better for you. Let us explain.
How Your Brain Interprets Resolutions
The human brain is a powerful and complex organ, and one of the many things it is fantastic at is identifying actions that are an important part of your regular life and automating them so you don’t have to think too much about them. While this is definitely nice for keeping your mind clear of unnecessary thoughts like how exactly you need to move your hand while you’re pouring your coffee in the morning, it also makes it difficult to change habits that we’ve already formed.
When you perform actions frequently, you are telling your brain that that action is important. In response, your brain rewires itself to make that action habitual so you no longer have to think about it. As a result, your mind has more available space to focus on evaluating and responding to situations that require your full attention. By embedding that new habit, your brain is also helping itself conserve energy, as actions that have been automated in this way take much less mental processing power to carry out.
When we set new goals or make resolutions for the upcoming year, we are essentially saying that we are going to make some sort of change to our habits. While repetition alone can easily help us form a new habit, the truth of the matter is that most of the time, we are not simply forming a new habit from scratch, we are actually trying to replace an old habit with a new one. This means that we are not only convincing our brain to automate one new task, but we are also simultaneously trying to convince it to delete the coding for the old task—and the fact of the matter is that your brain is naturally resistant to change, especially when it comes to getting rid of the automation it worked so hard to create.
This resistance to change often sparks emotions like anxiety, stress, and even fear. Your brain views change as a threat to the efficient system it has in place, and this rise in emotions is how it alerts you to this threat. Logically though, we know the changes we plan to make will be better for us in the long run, so that begs the question: is there anything you can do to help lower the threat level and trick your brain into being more open to change? The key may just be learning to reframe your resolutions, or, in other words, changing the way we think about our resolutions so they feel less threatening.
Tips for Reframing Your Resolutions
Learning to think about your resolutions differently can help you define them better and get your brain on board with the changes that are coming. Here are some tips to help you think differently about your goals and set you up for success this year.
1. Reframing Your Focus
As humans, we sometimes focus on the end game and forget to embrace the journey that will get us there. When setting resolutions, shifting your focus to the journey and breaking your big goal into multiple small ones can do wonders to help your brain feel less intimidated by the big change that is coming. For example, if you want to switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet by the end of the year, you can break that goal into smaller monthly goals instead of diving in head first. Maybe one month you simply add 5 new vegetables to your regular meal rotation, and maybe another month you cut out red meat but still allow yourself to cook with chicken and fish. This way, you can make progress toward your bigger goal without it feeling overwhelming.
2. Reframing Your Timeline
Timeframes for goals can be tricky. We all know that giving ourselves a timeframe to reach our goals can give us a boost of motivation and make us more successful. However, this only works to a certain extent. If our goals are too big and our time frame is too small, then getting there can feel impossible. Instead of just deciding that you are going to lose 100 pounds by the end of this year, take the time to really consider where you’re at, what your current habits are, and what a realistic, generous time frame might be. Maybe instead, you decide to decrease your weight loss goal or increase your timeframe to give you time to ease into your new routine and give both your body and mind time to prepare for the changes ahead.
3. Reframing Your Plan
When reframing your resolutions, you can make them easy to achieve by starting small.Do not be too hard on yourself by setting large and scary resolutions and feeling like you have to use an all-or-nothing approach to achieve them. You can take small steps towards the larger goal you set for yourself. For example, you can start eating healthy by replacing one of your daily sodas with a glass of water or snacking on a bowl of fruit instead of your favorite chips. As you go along, you will realize that you are slowly changing your eating habits, one step at a time. Once you no longer have to think much about that first change, you can take another small step by changing something else.
4. Reframing Your Rewards System
When it comes to health and wellness goals, it can often seem counterintuitive to reward yourself for your success. After all, when many of us think of rewards, we think of things that aren’t necessarily beneficial for our health, like a sweet treat from the bakery or a cheat day from our diet. However, unhealthy things aren’t the only way you can reward yourself. If your goals are focused on your health this year, it’s time to reframe how you view rewards. Instead of indulging in a cupcake when you stick to your exercise plan for a whole month, maybe you treat yourself to a new outfit, pair of running shoes, or a book that’s been on your wishlist instead. This way, you have something to look forward to which will help keep you stay motivated to keep going.
Set Yourself Up for Success This Year
No matter what your resolutions are, the most important thing is your mindset toward them. Give yourself a helping hand this year by reframing your resolutions so they work better for you and you can accomplish everything you set out to do this year.
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