• Katharine Gardner

Are you sticking to your New Year Resolutions?

A huge proportion of us make New Year's resolutions. Research shows that 45% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February. Did you make any? How are you finding sticking to them? As we approach the end of January, let’s take a moment to reflect on why we could be failing:

The resolution is not specific enough

Non-specific resolutions could be things like: “save money”, "exercise more" or "lose weight". These are ideal scenarios, not a clear target. It would be easy to “fail” because there’s not a good way of keeping track of progress – or knowing when you have achieved them.

Our motivation will drop off throughout the weeks and months if we don’t have measurable targets, and we could find ourselves not sticking with it.

How about trying making your goal more specific? Examples could be things like:

*saving a set amount of money per month* rather than “spend less”;

*file my paperwork away* rather than “get more organised”;

*run a local 5k* rather than “get fit”; or

*lose 12 pounds by a particular (realistic) date* rather than “lose weight”.

Setting a target date could be really helpful for all sorts of resolutions. Some goals will take longer to achieve than others, some will require interim mini targets – which will boost your enthusiasm and motivation if you can achieve them (or get very close).

Starting is often not the hardest part of a new habit – maintaining the motivation over time is. Don’t be afraid to re-assess your goals, and allow some modification - this will keep you moving forward and feeling good about it. Our brains signal the release of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin and endorphins when we achieve little things, which in turn motivate us on to achieving more and more!

And how about being kind to yourself? Habits take a while to change, after all, they took a long time to form!

You’re using negative language

Our brains are very clever, but also prone to playing tricks on us. To illustrate…. If I say do NOT think of a red car…… what are you picturing now? Our brains have to picture it, in order for us not to think about it! If our resolutions contain negative language, if we tell ourselves to avoid eating a certain food for example, all our minds can focus on is the thing you’re trying to avoid! That can lead us to break our resolutions, and feel bad about it, creating negative thoughts.

If we think in negative terms, it can give us stress, and pile more pressure on us. When we are feeling stressed, our brains signal the release of cortisol and adrenaline. Then we lose intellectual control, we’re operating from our “primitive” brain, the area that is designed for survival. In this primitive brain we are dominated by fear, sadness or annoyance, we’re not thinking clearly ……. and we can’t make sensible plans to achieve our goals.

You could try framing your goal with positive language to see if it makes a difference to your choices. Instead of saying “I won’t eat chocolate” try something like “I will have a healthy snack this afternoon - maybe a banana”.

Our internal commentary is extremely powerful. If you put positive messages in, you are far more likely to get positive results.

Is it actually your resolution?

Do your New Year's resolutions actually reflect what you want to achieve? Or were you influenced by friends, social media, or colleagues?

If you don’t want to give up alcohol, if you’re happy with your spending, or if yoga isn’t for you, then now’s the time to re-assess. One person’s pleasure is another person’s pain! We’re all different, we have different likes and preferences, we find pleasure in different things.

Therefore, try only setting goals that are unique to you. Be centred on yourself (which is not the same as being selfish). Otherwise, we may not be fully motivated and end up feeling bad about our lack of commitment to our resolutions, and back we go into our primitive minds, where we can’t innovate new ideas, we can’t seem to decide how to tackle problems or setbacks.

Our primitive minds use survival techniques of anxiety, depression and anger (and all its many variants such as panic attacks, grumpiness, negative thoughts, lack of confidence and excessive worrying). We can spiral into a negative loop of unhappiness, poor sleep and of course, we’re not able to stick to those new habits that we desire.

I’d be happy to see you for a free initial consultation, so you can find out how hypnotherapy can help you to gain more intellectual control, relax and let go of unwanted habits.

Call or text me on 07966 243876 or email info@kghypnotherapy.co.uk

Looking forward to hearing from you,


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