Posted on January 30, 2017
HOW TO WIN AT NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
by Dr. Gregory Bottaro, PSY.D., founder of The CatholicPsych Institute, www.catholicpsych.com
Every New Years the blog posts sound the same. If I hadn’t learned a few game-changers in the last year, I wouldn’t be adding to the noise. I want to share with you a few simple brain hacks that, if put into practice, will help you maintain your New Years resolutions this year.
These are the secrets to unlocking your greatest potential. Some of them might sound weird, but if you put them into practice, you will win your New Years resolutions. These tips are not for people that want an immediate turnaround on their resolutions (which never happens without failing miserably shorty thereafter). This list is for you if there is something you seriously and deeply want to change about your life.
1) Wake up on purpose.
Most people wake up in the morning like it’s an accident. Instead, set your alarm. As soon as the alarm goes off, get out of bed. The snooze button is one of the worst inventions of all time. You were made for greatness, not an extra five minutes of sleep. Your psyche knows that, and when you hit that button, you start off the day with deep seeded self-directed disgust. There is absolutely nothing good that comes from the snooze button, and from a philosophical, psychological, spiritual, and scientific perspective, it hurts you. Guarantee getting out of bed when your alarm goes off by setting it across the room from your bed. You have to get up in order to turn it off.
2) Change perspective.
As soon as you are out of bed, sit on the floor. You may need a few minutes to wake up mentally, and that is understandable. DO NOT STAY IN BED. This is kind of a repeat of the last point, but it is a valuable trick to avoid making the mistake. Simply sitting on the floor allows you to go through the mental wake up cycle without the danger of ruminating and driving in the sense of being a failure at something before your eyelids are even fully open.
3) Be Aware.
Use that time on the floor, or wherever you go after you jump out of bed to turn off the alarm, to practice a bit of [Catholic] mindfulness*. Just take one deep breath and pay attention to it as if your life depended on it. If you’re already experienced with mindfulness, take a few breaths, maybe practice for five minutes. I like to add a prayer before the breath, “Ever present God, here with me now, help me be here with you.”
4) Start a gratitude journal.
This part might seem like a lot of work, but it really is a game changer. There are neurophysiological reasons for doing this. After your mind is working (maybe you’ve gotten a cup of tea or coffee or even just water at this point), sit down for five minutes with a journal. Write down three things you are grateful for in your life. Write down three more things that you hope to accomplish today. That’s it. Six simple thoughts. This practice every morning will literally change your brain.
5) Plan manageable changes.
Think of your overall resolution, and then break it into 12 steps. This is the long term, actually-life-changing part of the plan. You will not change overnight. Most people overestimate what they can do in two months, and underestimate what they can do in two years. Real change does not happen quickly. That’s not how humans are built. Real spiritual change, psychological change, physical change, or lifestyle change takes time. Do you want to change? Make it possible by breaking it down into steps. Then, work on each step for a month. Even if it seems like it will be painstakingly slow, I promise you it will be much better next year when New Years is rolling around to realize you actually changed something instead of just failing again like every other year. If you need help with this, email us with your resolution and one of my associates or I will help you break it down.
6) Choose wisely.
Since you are trying to actually change something about your life, you are going to spend a lot of time (in the long run) with this change. Make sure you think and pray about what it is you want to change and really believe that it’s good for you. Think about why you are doing it, who you are doing it for, and what end it serves.
7) Have a buddy.
Most people who try to change something on their own will fail. This is because human beings are made for community. We are built at the deepest level with a need for others. This also means that being plugged in with others actualizes our greatest potential. Whatever your resolution is this year, find someone who shares the same resolution – it doesn’t matter if you have any other kind of relationship. That way you can work together to keep each other accountable and motivated specifically in the area of this resolution.
*The CatholicPsych Institute has developed a program of mindfulness that is specifically Catholic. This program integrates a foundation of trusting God’s providence with the standard mindfulness exercises to help people experience ways of breaking patterns of rumination, anxiety, and depression. You can learn more at www.catholicmindfulness.com.
Article reposted with permission from The CatholicPsych Institute