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New Year's resolutions: Why 88% of them fail and how can we make them real?


If you want to change yourself and be better, I think this is a very nice and inspiring thing.

And it seems that the majority is thinking the same thing: 50% of the American people makes one or more new year decisions (unfortunately no research on Turkey).

Pretty spectacular! However, according to researcher Richard Wiseman, it is not that much; 88% of those who made these decisions, and possibly other people in many parts of the world, also fail. 150 million odd failed decisions and every year a lot of disappointed people.

These numbers really made me think. I wanted to understand why we are so bad about implementing our decisions and what we can do to carry them out.

Here is a little more science about the scientific facts behind the New Year's resolutions and how you can change yourself better:

Your brain doesn't understand Christmas decisions - that's why

The need to remain faithful to our New Year's decisions is voluntary. Our brain cells running the will are found in the prefrontal cortex, the area just behind our forehead.

This particular area of ​​the brain is also responsible for focusing, resolving short-term memory and abstract tasks.

Now, when you decide on the New Year, you need a huge amount of will. It's an amount your brain can't handle. More scientifically, what is inside the prefrontal cortex is the best explained with Dr. Shiv's experience with the Stanford experiment:

"A group of undergraduate students was divided into two groups. A group was given a two-digit number to remember. A seven-digit number was given to remember the other. Later, after a short walk in the hall, a selection of two aperitifs was presented: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit. The most amazing thing: the 7-digit number of students to remember was twice as high as the possibility of choosing chocolate cake compared to 2-digit students."

What is the reason of this? Professor Clearly according to Shiv:

”Extra numbers occupied a valuable place in the brain - we call them bu cognitive burden sel - which made it even harder for them to resist dessert.“

The prefrontal cortex, which governs the will, is like a muscle that needs to be trained according to Tony Schwartz. If you decide to train these muscles at the beginning of a new year to quit smoking, start a gym, or lose weight, it is like trying to lift a weight of 300 pounds without getting an advance training or practicing the body.

It's no surprise that your brain can't afford that much weight.

Decisions Against Habits - Why unqualified aspirations do not work

"New year's decisions - what a big mistake. People don't choose certain behaviors, they choose abstractions" says BJ Fogg of Stanford University.

The problem is clear: it's almost impossible for your brain to focus on abstract targets that don't depend on a specific behavior. The ’instinctive" rendering that will help you reach a new habit is incomplete in 90% of all Christmas decisions, which will fail them.

Instead, the key is to make a habit before any goal. And most importantly, start with the little one first. Here are some examples of how you can change some of the most common 4-year-old decision-making habits:

Decision: Quit smoking Habit: Quit smoking every morning after breakfast. Decision: Healthy eating Habit: Start eating bananas instead of the donuts that you eat in the morning. Decision: Lose Weight Habit: every evening after work, walk for 20-30 minutes. Decision: To learn to cope with stress Habit: Meditate every morning for 2-3 minutes after wakening up.

By adapting decisions and seeing what the simplest habits can be, your chances of success will increase by 50%. If you create this habit by simplifying the situation for yourself, there is almost no way you can fail with it.

Enough with dreary and unhopeful comments about new year resolutions. So what can we really do to reach them?

4 steps to achieving new decisions in the new year

If you have made a few big decisions, the most important things you should think about to really change your behavior to be a better one are:

1. Select only one decision. As Stanford's Professor Shiv explains with a in cognitive overloading ara experiment, staying connected to more than one decision makes it impossible for your brain to overcome it. Instead, analyze everything you think you want to change and choose what is most important to you.

Then, leave everything, otherwise you'll choose the chocolate cake in each case instead of the choice you are preparing to make.

2. Take baby steps - make a little habit. Now that you have chosen a solution, be sure to simplify it. If your decision is to go to the gym, set it to a place where you can reach it under 30 minutes and make it a simple habit.

3. Hold yourself accountable for what you want to change: Tell others

In a 2007 study by Evans, they found a striking correlation between increased social support and lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol. What does this have to do with New Year's resolutions? There is striking evidence that people around you can have a significant impact on your behavior. So if you talk about the new little habit you've created with some of your friends and family, you're more likely to stick to it.

Another tip is to write. Writing not only increases your likelihood of dealing with your new habit, but also increases your overall happiness.

4. Focus on carrots, not on sticks - increase your chances of positive feedback and rewards success. A strong study from the University of Chicago clearly demonstrates how positive feedback can turn into new habits and decisions.

After a successful diet even if you reward yourself for once with an unhealthy food, your goal will provide you with great strength and motivation.

Fast final truth: Strong will is not a character property

It is a very relaxing and important last fact, that having a strong will is not congenital, contrary to the general view.

Research shows that the will itself is naturally limited, and why the decisions we made at the beginning of each year failed - because the brain was not built for success.

The prefrontal cortex in your brain should work just as the muscles should work to grow and strengthen. The key point is to take care of starting without lifting too much, because we don't have to leave most of the decisions for the new year.

With all this information, what I want to know is: do you have New Year resolutions? How do you plan to approach them? I'd like to hear your thoughts in your comments.

Wishing you happy, hopeful and full of health year!


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