Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions that people make each year include eating healthy, losing weight, quitting smoking and going to the gym. Unfortunately, the majority of people will lose interest or determination and do not meet those goals. In fact, research shows that only about eight percent of individuals will actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions and make them work for the year.Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions that people make each year include eating healthy, losing weight, quitting smoking and going to the gym. Unfortunately, the majority of people will lose interest or determination and do not meet those goals. In fact, research shows that only about eight percent of individuals will actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions and make them work for the year.
The main reason resolutions may not come to fruition is due to the fact that they do not focus on the right things. You simply cannot make your exercise more if your mind isn’t focused on habits to complete this. Instead of focusing solely on exercising more, you need to put your focus on commitment and building mental strength to make decisions to exercise – even when you’d rather rest or spend time checking social media at a coffee shop.
The key to self-discipline, grit, delayed gratification, and perseverance is developing your mental muscles. Regardless of your goals, you will only be able to succeed if you work to develop changes in your thinking as well as your habits.
We know that this takes effort and practice. Here are a few tips to help develop that mental strength you need to accomplish those big resolutions this year:
Tip #1: Practice Self-Compassion.
The way your mind thinks directly impacts how you behave and how you feel. You are only holding yourself back when you call yourself names, beat yourself up when mistakes are made, and criticize your performance.
Many find that they are their own worst enemy when trying to accomplish a goal. Rather than focusing on mistakes or failures, focus on developing a more compassionate and kinder internal dialogue. What does that mean? Try talking to yourself as you would when trying to encourage a good friend. Rather than saying “I can’t believe I let myself eat that donut! It just looked so good in the break room. I’m never going to be able to do this!” Find a way to encourage yourself and search for a positive lesson. “Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but I CAN do this. I just need to remember to avoid the donut box when I go to the break room.” By allowing yourself some compassion, you will become far more motivated to develop a long-term change.
Tip #2: Become More Aware of Your Feelings.
Your emotions have a strong influence over interpreting events and making decisions. Anxiety has the ability to cause you to avoid certain risks while sadness can cause you to settle for less than what you normally would.
Take a little bit of time out of each day to think about your feelings. Label each emotion and acknowledge your feelings from different areas of your life. You need to be aware of the fact that your feelings will spill from one area of your life to another. Feelings aren’t clean-cut; however, you can use logic to work through your emotions if you make an effort to acknowlege them.
Tip #3: Spend a Minimum of 15 Minutes Per Day for Reflection.
Life is busy. With so much going on in your life, it is incredibly easy to get caught up in all the busyness and forget to take time to think. When you don’t make an effort to take quiet time for yourself, how can you make sure that you are in line with your short and long-term goals?
Make sure that you set aside at least 15 minutes every single day to reflect on how things are going in your life. If you aren’t sure what to reflect on during this time. Start by thinking about how your day has gone and how you can ensure tomorrow is better. This doesn’t mean look over your agenda for the next day. Instead, take the time to think about went well and what could have been better. Consider ways you can improve those things for the next day and make a mental plan to do so. This quiet reflection time each day can be instrumental in meeting your resolutions.
Tip #4: Establish a Weekly Goal.
At the beginning of each week, establish a weekly goal and write it down. Keep these goals small but challenging. Put it somewhere that you can see it throughout the week. Research has shown that writing down your goals increases your odds of success by 42 percent.
To increase your chances of success even more, get specific about your goals by adding when and where you hope to complete each goal. For example, rather than saying “I will exercise three times this week”, add specific details by saying: “I will go the gym after work on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.” Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful as they do not provide direction. By adding specifics, you essentially define not only what you hope to accomplish but how you plan to do so.
Every single goal that you set will provide you with an opportunity to strengthen your mental strength. Then, with each success, you will build your confidence and motivation to continue in your journey to meet your New Year’s resolutions.
Tip #5: Identify Three Things You’re Grateful for Each Day.
An effective and simple way to improve mental health and strength is practicing gratitude exercises. There are many studies that indicate that maintaining a grateful mindset can result in a wide variety tangible benefits including reduced psychological distress and improved sleep.
A great way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. The practice of journaling can be particularly effective and therapeutic for those working to achieve a difficult goal. Studies have shown that people with a grateful mindset lead to more resilience in the midst of difficult situations. Each day, take a few minutes to write down at least three different things for which you are grateful. This will essentially train your brain to more instinctively identify things that are good in your life. At the same time, this can also help you to proactively defend yourself against negative mindsets, such as self-pity, which can often adversely affect your mental health and strength.
Build Up Your Mental Strength Year-Round
Keep in mind that building mental muscle is more than simply setting a goal in January. It is about improving yourself a little more each day.
Remember to pace yourself. Attempting to tackle too many goals at one time can end up causing more stress. Instead, identify one change that you really want to make and start with that. For example, maybe you will want to start with the gratitude journal and writing down what you’re thankful for each day in January. Then, starting in February, you can begin committing to a time each day for reflection. Over time, you will see that as you build more mental strength, various other life goals become much easier to achieve naturally.
If you would like to talk to someone about your state of mind or would like to discuss more ways to improve mental strength, please don’t hesitate to call and talk to our staff at Luminous Counseling. We are here for you!