The first days of January are already gone. Do you have any resolutions, and how are you going to keep up your good intentions?
The difficulty of new years resolutions
It sounds so easy. More exercise, healthier food, earlier to bed, less on the phone, more reading, less TV ... and so on. There are enough healthy habits that can fill our buffer for a healthier and more enjoyable life.
So what makes this so difficult? It has mainly to do with the part of the brain where our feelings originate, the emotional brain. Most things that are less good for us, give a better feeling in the short term. Watching TV feels better than doing sports, eating unhealthy food better than healthy, Facebook is more exciting than the newspaper, and so on. The 'bad habits' are often habits that quickly give a reward.
Good habits often don't immediately make you feel good. It takes effort to maintain them and only after a long time do you notice the difference. So keeping good intentions is a lot more difficult. The part of the brain that generates feelings wins over the 'sensible part'....
Is good intentions ever going to work?
Surely it's possible to keep resolutions. I'm sure you've had some success yourself, or you know examples of people who have indeed started moving more, stopped smoking, or really are less on their phones.
With the following tools you too can keep up your resolutions!
- Start in small steps. Take steps that you are almost certain will succeed. Even if you only wear your running shoes in the house, that's a first step!
- Remind yourself about what went well. It is really necessary to emphasize the positive if you want to make progress!
- Reward yourself. If necessary, make an agreement with a friend or your partner that you will do something fun when you have achieved your goal.
- Tell others. By telling others about your intentions, you feel just a little more pressure to actually achieve it! You can even keep others regularly informed about your challenge!
- Make it visible. Put crosses on a calendar, make a progress poster, or think of something for yourself that will make you see your progress every day.