In 2014 I will get fitter and lose 8kg.
Wondering why you can’t keep your new year’s resolutions? Perhaps you haven’t trained enough…
Reading this article in the Buffer blog we discovered that to keep resolutions you need willpower. And that involves your prefrontal cortex, the bit of brain just inside your forehead which is quite busy with things like short-term memory, solving complex tasks, planning, strategising, choosing between good and bad and controlling potentially anti-social urges.
So if you ask your prefrontal cortex to achieve a big abstract goal like ‘lose 8kg’ it’s too much to handle, what with everything else that’s going on in there.
Instead you need to break it down into a series of small behavioural changes or habit breakers that will slowly train your brain (like any muscle) until these new habits or behaviours become instinctual. Added up, they’ll help you reach your big, abstract goal.
As Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD wrote in her article The Science of Willpower: “If willpower is a muscle, even a metaphorical muscle, it should be possible to train it… As with physical exercise, using your self-control muscle may be tiring, but over time the workout increases your strength and stamina… New behaviors become habits, temptations become less overwhelming and willpower challenges can even become fun.”
So rather than “I will lose 8kg”, try: “At morning tea, I’ll substitute my usual choc chip muffin for a banana”.
And: “I will not eat bread at dinner.”
And: “I will ignore the lift and walk the three flights to my office.”
See how you go in 2014!