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Succeed in your New Year's Resolution

pastedGraphic.pdf It is a fact of life. People love to make their resolutions for the new year and we love even more the fact that they will be short lived. People write lists and get motivated but, the poor resolutions are very much short lived and, with luck they will last a couple of weeks. The question is why people fail to keep their resolutions. Science may have found part of the answer. Some recent studies have found that our brain gets very attached to our current habits and behaviors the older you get. The saying “one can not teach new tricks to an old dog” is also valid for us. We get so used to do things the way we do that it is extremely hard to change our behavior even though we know for a fact that it will benefit us enormously. When a person reaches the late twenties or early thirties our brain is so accustomed with the business as usual that it starts to get harder and harder to change our ways. Some studies also found that our brain is wired to view the short term as opposed to the long term. It all has to do with our past where immediate reward was preferable than wait for something that may not even come. Just keep in mind that these mechanisms date back when a hunter had to win now to prevent his pack from starving to death. Today, this is no longer needed (even though most of us prefer compensation now and not later) but the mechanism stayed with us. That is why if a goal is not reached in a short period of time we either procrastinate a task (or resolution) or simply give it up.
This is so true and everyone has experienced this scenario in life. We get motivated into keeping our resolutions and a few days after we start we feel so miserable that we prefer to go back to do things in a fashion that makes us more comfortable. When a person manages to stay on track a little longer another process kicks in: Rationalization. This is basically a process in which one starts reasoning with oneself to find a way to convince himself that whatever one is doing, it is not worth it or that we are better of without it. The final consequence is a disaster because it leads the person to completely abandon the commitment made. 

At this point one may starts arguing that we must stay overweigh, smokers, etc. Since we will end up in eventually abandoning our resolutions there is no point in waist time and money (Just notice on TV the amount of ads during december and january that sells weigh-loss, quit smoking, gym membership, a better you, etc and you will see how much money gets waisted) and all this time feeling miserable. Evidently that is also a mistake. Firstly because to improve oneself is a noble and worthwhile goal. Just ask a person that quit smoking or lost weight and they will tell that how happy and much better they are. Secondly, because there is hope. Here are some very good tips to make sure that you will start January and end December with a sensation of mission accomplished.

Keep It Simple: Don’t fall for the lure of embracing the world. Create small goals that are attainable in a short period of time and give you immediate reward. For instance, instead of deciding to drop 50 pound during the year, decide to be 5 pounds lighter by the end of the month. Instead of deciding to quit smoking, just decide: I will not smoke today. 

Get support: Any smoker knows about it. Quitting alone is though. Therefore, get support or do it with others that are trying to do the same thing. A support group always helps in motivating in attaining a goal.

Prepare yourself: Make sure that you have all the tools and information available to ensure success. For instance, before start exercising or quit smoking, talk to your doctor (in fact, that is not only a recommendation, that should be one first step).

Reward yourself: Establish milestones that are attainable and when you get there make sure you reward yourself. You will feel like a million dollars and will certainly prevent you from falling of the wagon.

It is about the journey: This is also very much true. Try to focus on your journey and how little by little you are improving and opposed to how far are you from your goal. 

Finally, all the methods and science will not help one succeed. It is our determination in obtaining something that will ultimately make sure we reach our targets.

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