Sticking to New Year resolutions is tough. Time and time again we start the new year with good intentions to get fit, eat healthy, get a new job, start a new business, or take up that new hobby we’ve been dreaming about. Yet inevitably, those good intentions and resolutions quickly fall by the wayside and we’re back to the same old bad habits and lifestyle we’ve been spinning our wheels in for years.
The key to making real change isn’t in setting resolutions, it’s in creating a strong mindset geared towards sustaining them. Without a strong, positive, and productive mindset you will struggle to discipline and motivate yourself to stick to your new year resolutions long enough for them to become habits and make a real difference in your life.
Here are 3 simple techniques that can help you develop the positive, productive mindset you need to stick with your resolutions this year
1. Develop ‘slight edge’ thinking
This is one of the most powerful mindset techniques available today, and focuses on the power of compounding effort over time to accelerate real change. Slight edge thinking says that while each individual decision on its own may seem to have no real significance, over time the significance and effect on your life adds up exponentially. For example, say your new year resolution was to go to the gym 4 times a week. One day you decide to give the gym a miss, and tell yourself that one missed gym session will not hurt. It’s just one session, right? Slight edge thinking suggests that while it may not make a difference today, over time the cumulative effect of all those missed sessions adds up, and you miss out on what would have been significant progress.
We’re programmed today for instant gratification. We want to diet for two weeks and drop 10 pounds, or meditate for 2 hours and achieve instant enlightenment. The reality is that change takes time, and we’re not going to see instant results. Often the lack of visible results in the early stages is what causes us to believe our efforts are not working, or that a single positive action is really making any difference at all.
Recommended book: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen
Slight edge thinking encourages you to consider in each moment the long-term effects of not doing those things that will help you. Will your decision take you upwards towards success or downward towards failure? When you’re deciding whether to go to the gym, or eat that second piece of cake, or turn the TV off to read 10 pages of your personal development book, slight edge thinking says consider the long term, compounding benefits and make the choice that will help you, not harm you. You may not see results immediately, but over time the results will grow exponentially, and you’ll suddenly realize just how far you’ve come.
2. Start a positive morning routine
I’m a firm believer that how you start your day sets you up for the rest of the day. How often have you found yourself still lying on the couch in your pajamas at 10am and decided the whole day was a write off? Compare that to days when you’ve gotten out of bed early and started the day productively – how differently did those days go? To make the most of your days, creating a morning routine that encourages a positive, motivated mindset will absolutely increase your chances of having a productive, enjoyable day.
One of the most effective morning routines I have come across is the Miracle Morning routine, created by Hal Elrod. This routine combines 6 simple activities that will help you create a positive mindset and get you off to a great start for the day. The six activities, known as the SAVERS are Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing. Hal recommends spending 10 minutes on each activity for maximum impact, but you can spend as long or as little time as you have in the morning available and still see results.
Silence: spend 10 minutes meditating to calm your mind
Affirmations: spend 10 minutes on positive affirmations – choose those affirmations most relevant to your day ahead
Visualization: spend 10 minutes visualizing your day going as you want it, achieving your goals and enjoying your time. You can also include visualizing achieving your larger goals and dreams
Exercise: spend 10 minutes exercising to get your body warmed up and ready for the day
Reading: spend 10 minutes reading something that will be of benefit to you, such as a personal development book or something related to your career
Scribing: spend 10 minutes journaling or writing out your affirmations or things you are grateful for
Recommended book: The Miracle Morning: The not-so-obvious secret guaranteed to change your life (before 8am) by Hal Elrod
Starting your day with this routine, or one that suits you better, will help cultivate the mindset needed to stick to your resolutions and make the positive changes you want in your life
3. Interrupt rumination
Our tendency to ruminate on problems and negative thoughts can be immensely destructive to our mindset. The more we return to a single thought, the stronger the neural pathway becomes and the easier it is for our mind to go back to it time and time again. Rumination sucks your time, energy, and motivation to go after your goals and stick to your new year resolutions.
Learning to recognize when you begin to ruminate on a negative thought, and then take action to interrupt the rumination and replace it with an alternative, more positive thought will make a tremendous difference to your mindset. When you notice you are beginning to ruminate, interrupt the thought by telling yourself you recognize what you are doing, and you are going to actively interrupt it. Then, you need to take action to actively interrupt the rumination, such as starting a new activity, getting up and moving about, or starting a conversation. Any activity that focuses your mind in a new, positive direction will help interrupt the pathway and break the rumination.
Each time you recognize you are ruminating and successfully interrupt it, you will find yourself returning to those negative thoughts less and less often. Over time, just as with slight edge thinking, the time and energy you save from not engaging in endless rumination can be used more productively to help you stick to your new year resolutions and goals
The great thing about these 3 techniques is you don’t need to wait for January 1st to start using them. You can use them at any time, all year round, to help you cultivate a strong, action-oriented, positive mindset for any goal or task you need to achieve. If you’ve found them valuable, please feel free to share this article with others who may benefit! You can also find books on Slight Edge thinking and the Miracle Morning technique in my favorite books list and I’d love to hear your comments below!