by Renée Canada
With the promise of a new year and a fresh start, many are ringing in 2012 with a list of resolutions and grand expectations for the upcoming year. Some of my friends are committed to heading back to the gym on a regular basis, getting out of credit card debt, quitting smoking, going gluten-free, quitting their full-time job to start their own business, or losing those extra 15 lbs. Admirable goals all – yet with research showing that almost 90 percent of all New Year’s resolutions result in failure, one can’t help but think it’s time we start rethinking how we view and approach the positive changes we wish to make in our lives.
Many of us make resolutions with the underlying thought that these changes will completely make over our lives, reinvent who we are or will be that missing puzzle piece that finally leads us to the most successful of lives. Putting so much pressure on the blank slate at the beginning of a new year, is it any surprise that 88 percent of more than 3,000 people involved in a 2007 conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman failed to meet their resolutions?
According to an article in The Guardian, many of those who failed to accomplish their New Year’s goals had focused on the downside of not achieving them, suppressed their cravings, focused on fantasies or relied on willpower alone.
Studies have compared the inner strength required for willpower to the physical strength needed for exercise – exerting one’s self intensely for too long a period is exhausting. Trying to control the self in too many different ways at the same time can also be overload to our willpower muscle. This is why many psychologists recommend focusing on one resolution instead of trying to do many.
Like a physical muscle, willpower can be trained, strengthened and, when necessary, should be rested. According to a 2009 study by Phillippa Lally and colleagues from University College London, it took an average of 66 days for participants to form a new habit. The more dedication a habit required, for instance doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast versus drinking a daily glass of water, the longer it takes for a behavior to become a habit.
Here are some ways we can help flex our willpower muscle to improve our chances of achieving our new year’s resolutions for 2012. Click here to read the rest of the article.