How Do You Get Your Resolutions To Stick?

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com

This is my first post of the new year 2021. As is customary, I have a ton of ideals about how this year could and should pan out. But this year, I have refrained from writing down my new year’s resolutions.

It’s not that I don’t believe in them. I think having a moment in which you evaluate your choices and decide on what you want to do differently is not only useful but absolutely paramount to living the best life you can. I wrote a post on resolutions in the beginning of september that helped with forming good resolutions, ones that you can actually follow up with, by not setting the bar too high.

Yet, even if you set perfectly SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Time-based), and even if you’re insanely motivated and have all the support you need, even then there’s a high chance your resolutions won’t stick. How do I know? Because I’ve tried it. Over… and over… and over again.

Sure, they work for a month, sometimes even two. I have two bullet journals that can attest to the powers of January and February. But then March rolls around and somehow my will power runs out. Or is it my motivation?

So what IS the key to making your resolutions stick. What is the key to forming new habits that last?

I’ve pinpointed it down to a key factor in not slipping back into old habits. The key is that you have to change not only your habits, but you need to change the convictions that lie at the base of the old habits.

If you want to meditate more, but somehow belief that you never have enough time, it doesn’t matter how many minutes you’ve set out to start with. You’ll eventually fill up your meditation slot with other tasks.

If you’ve decided to go vegan this year but hold the conviction that you won’t like any of the vegan food you will cook, you might find a ton of reasons why next year is much better to start.

It’s perfectly wonderful to start with training for a 5k on January 2nd, but if you are convinced in your mind that you’re not athletic, your subconscious will eventually steer you back to the reality as you know it to be: You. Just. Don’t. Run.

To start changing your habits, you have to change your convictions. Our convictions are at the root of who we are as people. They were generously handed out in our earliest years, and often, we don’t even know we have them.
So it follows, that in order to change them, we first have to be aware of these convictions. I wrote about this in my previous post ‘The beliefs that shape our lives‘.

Now, when you make a list of new year’s resolutions, it’s important to look at the beliefs behind them. Do you want to meditate because you think you should? Do you want to eat vegan because you feel guilty if you don’t? Is running 5k a way to run away from how you feel about your body?
The beliefs that underly our resolutions will play a great part in how we handle the tough moments that always arise when adopting new habits.

To deal with these beliefs, to move beyond them, it’s not enough to just ‘do things differently’. It’s not enough to just start running or meditating. You have to chip away at the ingrained thought-patterns, little by little. When you catch yourself thinking a thought that stems from this belief, you try to notice it. At first, you notice it long after, then shortly after, then when it arises. You notice it, and you remind yourself where it comes from. After a while you learn not to believe these thoughts. Just because you think a thought, that doesn’t make it true.

Then you slowly replace it with new beliefs.
Yes, I love my body so much I give it the exercise it deserves, and I feel wonderful afterwards.
Meditation is such a great respite that it helps me spend my time much more efficiently afterwards.
There is such a wealth of vegan ingredients I have yet to discover that I’m bound to learn more as I practice preparing them.

Notice that these new beliefs are not lies. It wouldn’t work if they were. They are simply different or actual truths that give you a positive outlook on the same issues and that help you hold on to the reason why you are changing your habits, and, thus, changing yourself.

I hope you’ll find this useful in helping you stick to your new year’s resolutions, and to be kind and gentle with yourself if you don’t. Change can take a long time (though it can also happen in a flash), so give yourself that time and don’t be hard on yourself. Scolding has never made anyone feel inclined to change their behavior, so it doesn’t work on ourselves either.
It’s important to take yourself along for the ride, with all of who you are, in full acceptance of where you are at this very moment.

I’m wishing you an amazing 2021, with, above all, good health and lots of love <3.

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