Get Help with a Resolution

Practice of the Week
Get Help with a Resolution

You don't have to make your "New Year's Resolution" on the 1st of January. Make a resolution any time in January, and it's still a "New Year's Resolution."

Resolutions are about making a change – resisting the inertia of habit. But inertia is hard to resist! An estimated 88% of New Year's resolutions fail each year.

Here are some tips to making resolutions you can keep:

1. Pick only one resolution
Trying to start a new habit uses up a lot of brain energy. Trying to start more than one will be almost impossible for your brain to handle.

2. Take baby steps – make it a tiny habit.

  • Instead of "quit smoking," try, "stop smoking that 1 cigarette you have every morning after breakfast."
  • Instead of, "eat healthy food," try, "start substituting that 1 daily morning pastry for a banana."
  • Instead of, "lose weight," try, "every evening after work, go for a 2-3 minute run or walk around the block."
  • Instead of, "manage stress," try, "meditate for 2-3 minutes every morning after you wake up."

3. Build in some rewards along the way.
If the new habit is daily, for example, plan a reward for yourself every three or four days that you stick to the habit. Treating yourself to an unhealthy snack after a few days of successful diet habits changes is a good way to help you hang on for the long run.

Those tips can help. The main part of "Get Help with a Resolution," however, is the "Get Help" part! So...

Don’t just pick a resolution. Pick a partner!

Honoring the spiritual practice of accountability, tell a trusted friend about your resolution and then ask them to help hold you to it.

Choose whatever accountability strategy that works best for both of you. Maybe ask them to text you once a day to remind or encourage you. Instead of running alone, ask them to run with you for the month. Maybe your resolution is to get back to writing. If so, ask them to be your editor. And don’t just ask them to hold you accountable. Ask them to help you reflect on the experience itself. Sit down for at least one conversation before your small group meeting to talk with your “resolution partner” about how it felt to be held accountable and to hold one accountable.

The people around you can have a significant impact on your behavior. So if you tell some of your friends and family about the new tiny habit you’ve created, you are much more likely to stick to it. One 2007 study found a striking correlation between increased social support and lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol.

For Journaling

What did the experience teach you - and them - about the power of resisting together?

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