New Year, New You. Fresh temporal markers in life bring with them a hope for change and growth, and it is in these seasons that many people commit to forming new habits and behaviors. Perhaps the greatest of these is the start of the New Year, when almost everything in life is readily marked for reset. But as the novelty and excitement diminish, those resolutions get harder and harder to maintain. We’re here to encourage you to Keep It Up! Remember, it is okay to fail. And you are not alone.
According to several surveys, around 67 million American adults made New Year’s resolutions last year. Of those, about 18% had already given up by the end of January, and another 41% quit before the year was halfway through. Another study from the UK found that about two-thirds of people abandoned their resolutions within the first month. That sounds like a lot of wasted potential for a powerful year of growth! So why are we humans so seemingly prone to quitting?
Your brain is smart enough to know when to give up. Our bodies naturally respond to adversity by trying to conserve energy. It totally makes sense; if your brain senses that the outcome is not going to be what you initially intended, it will tell you to stop wasting your resources on a losing battle. One recent study found evidence that one type of cell in the brain (called glia) can sense when actions are futile, and they will then suppress attempts of the unsuccessful behavior.
Now before you start cursing the glial cells in your brain for sabotaging your endeavors, take a moment to reflect on your resolutions and their attainability. For starters, did you set yourself up for success by utilizing SMART goals and milestones? Another huge piece of the puzzle revolves around the nature of the goal or resolution. And it’s all about mindful habits and putting in the work. Nothing worth it is ever easy; we are all destined for autonomy and purpose.
Perhaps it’s simplest to really see the depths of smaller, modifiable behaviors that you are seeking to resolve when you break it up between body, mind, and spirit.
Listen to your body, and seek to do your best every day – plus one more. Short strides work just as well as long leaps; both move you forward.
Invest in your mind; challenge it, grow it, seek knowledge, and find ways to make it count. This even applies to literally keeping count and seeing how far you’ve come.
Be kind to yourself so that your spirit remains strengthened, and let that kindness pour out into others around you. Connection keeps us together, and from community it offers a fantastic opportunity for accountability and camaraderie when striving towards your larger goals.
Our encouragement to you is, no matter if you’ve already given up on your New Year’s resolutions (or if you didn’t set any in the first place), tomorrow is a new day to start fresh. Failure is painful sometimes. Yet, it almost always provides you with knowledge, insight, wisdom, or experience that you wouldn’t fully comprehend without it. Don’t be afraid to fail, and remember that failure isn’t the end of the road.
Keep your head up, and refine your methods to form new habits and behaviors. Or pivot completely and tackle something else entirely. You don’t need to wait for a new semester or new year or season to start building momentum towards a new goal. Those big moments can help, but they are not requisites. All that is required is you and a desire to grow.
Noticing a habit or behavior you want to change is where it starts, and from that place the planning of a resolution to alter it can happen. Skipping this phase and jumping straight to attempting the big life changes is why so many of us fail.
Take time to set those SMART goals, and remember to schedule in flexibility and grace along the way. Life rarely plays out exactly as we imagine, so make space for those things so that they don’t deter you from staying strong in your undertakings. And prioritize your body, mind, and spirit as much as you can along the way.
Keep it up! And remember that at Simply Psych, our mantra is reintegrating mental health into every aspect of our modern lifestyles. If you are a mental health clinician that owns a practice or you want to start your own, we are here for you! There are too many balls to juggle in order to manage a practice and help patients and clients feel better. We want to help you keep it up! Reach out to us at www.SimplyPsych.com to get started today!