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You don’t need willpower to achieve your resolutions. Simply focus on your values and follow these tips.
January is the ideal time to start with a clean slate: to leave our bad habits behind and become a better, healthier, more patient and more productive person. Yet, we never seem to be able to achieve our New Year Resolutions. Lack of willpower, we lament. But we don’t actually need willpower to succeed. We simply need to gain insight into our values, and familiarize ourselves with the impulses, thoughts and feelings which prevent us from living according to these values.
How to effortlessly meet your New Year’s resolutions
Linking resolutions to values
One way to achieve your resolutions more easily is to link them to what really matters to you. You want to cut down on drinking coffee, because you know it isn’t healthy. But Health might not be your strongest motivator. Maybe coffee is your symbolic reward and Appreciation is a more powerful value for you. So if you want to stick to your coffee resolution, link your caffeine-free life to a value-driver that is just as motivating as Appreciation.
Discover your values
In order for this to work, you need to know what drives and motivates you. Draw a big circle and divide it in four parts: Work/Training, Spare time, Personal Growth/Health and Relations. Note in each quadrant what you find important: Punctuality, Creativity, Friendship and so on. You may notice that even though some of these values were instilled into you, they are no longer meaningful to you. Just toss these old convictions out and focus on what really rings true for you today. Then choose a value that is powerful enough to drive the behavioral change you want to achieve.
Avoid the trigger
Bad habits are automatisms that are triggered by something or someone. Avoid these triggers by changing your routines or being more alert. A few examples: if, when you prepare breakfast, you immediately feel the need for a coffee, why not set the breakfast table the day before. The same thing goes for automatically saying yes whenever someone asks you anything, or cursing behind the wheel. If you know what triggers your behavior, you can stay one step ahead.
Push the pause-button
Urges come and go. If you want to break an old or a bad habit, you need to notice and identify the habit or the impulse. Without doing anything with it, ride it out like a surfer does a wave, until it crashes on the sand. By inserting a pause between the impulse and acting upon it, you give your brain a chance to focus on the long term strategy instead of on instant gratification.
Visualise your result
Throw saboteurs out
Our brain makes little distinction between reality and what we imagine. That’s why visualisation is such a powerful tool. Make up a scenario that brings you to the situation you want to achieve and play the film in your mind regularly. This will allow you to connect with your personal goals and achieve them more easily.
Every time you attempt a positive behavioral change, a voice in your head tries to entice you into choosing the well-known and familiar response delivering the short-term reward. Thoughts like ‘Most real decisions are made at the coffee machine’ or ‘I’m probably not smart enough to get promoted’. It’s your job to thwart these saboteurs. Notice the little voice and simply thank it for its contribution. Then tell it: “I’m going to take this language training because I want to further my career.”
Be kind to yourself
Regularly evaluate your progress. Did you refrain drinking coffee 3 times today? Did you sing up for a webinar? Give yourself a pat on the back or treat yourself to a little something.
“If Rome were built in a day, we would have hired the same contractor,” says a sign at a construction site. Achieving your resolutions cannot be done in one day, and that is okay. Just be kind to yourself whenever you relapse. Remember that you can always pick yourself up and start all over again.
We wish you all the best and lots of luck.
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