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Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and How You Can Change That!

17 Dec 2019

Author: Robert Raap

At the end of each year millions of people are eagerly making New Year’s resolutions. “New Year, New Me” seems to be on everyone’s lips. Well, as it turns out, only 12% of the people manage to stay the course. Why is that?

Be Prime Stay on Course New Year Resolution

One could follow the advice of a great deal of authors and columnists who every year claim to know the magical recipe of actually getting people’s New Year’s Resolutions done. The problem is that it would still probably take you no further than the third week of January.

For example psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert has highlighted three main reasons why people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions:

  • Resolutions are not specific enough,
  • They are not framed positively enough,
  • They really are not about you (i.e. resolutions don’t reflect what you actually want).

American Psychological Institution, on the other hand, advises to:

  • Start small,
  • Change one behavior at a time,
  • Talk about it,
  • Don’t beat yourself up,
  • Ask for support.

While SELF offers the following technical steps to beat the discouraging trend:

  • Make smaller resolutions.
  • Get specific with your goals.
  • Write down your goals.
  • Make your resolutions public.
  • Plan your follow through.
  • Check in with yourself regularly.
  • Celebrate small successes.
  • Remember that it's OK to slip up (then get back on track!).
  • Don't rely on others to get you where you're going.
  • Stick with what works.
  • Believe in yourself.

Yes, there is some truth to these claims. And you might even achieve a goal or two following them. However, is that really what you are after? Wouldn’t you prefer to achieve all your goals constantly, not just selectively work on a few and still risk a failure?

This truly seems puzzling. Why is it that even if we set our New Year’s Goals according to the best industry standards and academic guidelines we still fail so often?

The recipe seems straightforward enough: define S.M.A.R.T. goals > create a roadmap > find an accountability buddy > go at it slowly > and celebrate your success. Yet we still end up failing more often than not.

Be Prime Tasks Failing

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear right off the bat – most New Year’s resolutions cannot be achieved in a week or two. It is a long and arduous path that requires a lot of discipline. As Jim Rohn has said: “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”

In theory there is just one thing we have to do: change our behavior and stick with it until we get the necessary results. But why is it so hard to stick with the new behavior?

In short – this is because we humans are creatures of habit. Here is an example. Every morning you take a shower. Now, when turning the shower on, do you think which body part you’re going to wash first or where to look for the shampoo? 99% of the time the answer is NO. It all comes automatically as a habit, day after day after day. Deviations only happen when you think about the entire process!

Be Prime New Year Resolution Habits

So, to achieve your New Year’s resolutions just change your habits.

Jury is still out, however, on how long it actually takes to form a new habit. Estimates range from as low as 21 days to around 180 days. Phillippa Lally for instance suggests that it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.

The takeaway here is simple: if you want to change your behavior and reliably reach your New Year’s resolutions, be ready to withstand the hardship of getting out of your comfort zone and going against the grain of your pre-programmed brain for around 66 days.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

                                                       (Will Durant)

But let’s dig deeper. Why is it so hard to change a habit? How come most of us can’t stick to a new behavior for 66 days in a row?

In the end it all comes down to the Fight of the Two Wolves inside each and every one of us. This fight is eternal and it never abates.

In this old Cherokee tale, one of the wolves symbolizes evil – anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other represents the good – joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

 None of the tips listed at the start of the article will work as long as the evil wolf keeps coming out on top.

Be Prime Evil Good Wolf

To put it simply: we don’t achieve our New Year’s Resolutions because we let the evil wolf win way too often!

It is essential to help the good wolf go on a winning spree until a new action or behaviour becomes a habit and these two wolves can cease fighting about it.

It is those days when the Evil Wolf fights the hardest but the good one wins in the end that we make the greatest progress towards our goals. Some might call those character building days. These are the days where all your mind and body is against you but despite it all you still do the deed and continue to form the habit.

So the real question is, what can we do to increase the odds of the Good Wolf winning? Why is it that our mind and body can act against one another?

Be Prime Good Wolf Wins

Presumably all of you know the feeling of waking up in the morning and thinking to yourself: “Wow, what a beautiful day! Today I am unstoppable” or conversely “Oh, no. Have to wake up again.. I’d rather just stay in than face another day.” The fact is that these first thoughts are crucial in shaping the remainder of your day. What’s more important – they are essential in establishing whether the Good Wolf of the Bad Wolf wins that day. But the thing is that these first thoughts are actually controlled by our subconscious mind.

So now the rabbit hole’s taken us to the conclusion that in order to consistently and continuously achieve your New Year’s resolutions you have to reprogram your subconsciousness. This is way different from most theories on how to get your New Year’s resolutions stick. As this subconscious mind constantly observes and analyzes the information around it, it will eventually create its own beliefs according to what the environment around feeds it. To learn more about how the external world forms connections in your neural networks, what affects your cognitive brain and consciousness you can read a thorough research paper by Jim Beichler, PhD about the origins of consciousness.

As soon as we really understand that our subconscious mind is playing a huge role in achieving our goals, we can start reprogramming it. And the only way to reprogram a subconscious mind is through repetition. It is a very complicated task which is why only 12% of the people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. But eventually when your subconscious mind is reprogrammed then the percentage of mornings when your first thought is “Wow, what a beautiful day! Today I am unstoppable” increases. That will allow the Good Wolf to prevail that day and help you to form good long-term habits – the cornerstone of consistently and successfully achieving your goals.

Okay, sounds good. But how do I reprogramme my subconscious mind?

The most important part here is to acknowledge that our subconscious mind affects our everyday actions. As one of the most famous spiritual teachers Eckhart Tolle has said: 

If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.

After acknowledging this, you will begin to understand the reason behind these next steps. You have to change your actions or the environment around you so that it constantly feeds good, positive information into our brain. That, in turn, makes us happy and productive until the subconscious mind is overwritten and new beliefs have been formed. 

This can be done either consciously or subconsciously, but using “both minds” together is the most effective way to reprogram your subconscious mind. For example, all the tips at the beginning of this article are part of conscious programming. Fully reprogramming a brain takes more than that however. What is missing from there is the spiritual side – creating beliefs, controlling moods, feeling comfortable, fearless and happy in our own bodies and the ability to change mental states when necessary.

Some examples of conscious programming include: positive affirmations, visualization, motivational videos or audios, yoga, meditating, positive self-talk, gratitude practicing, forcing ourselves to laugh out loud for a couple of minutes, lucid dreaming.

Samples of subconscious programming (This means that once an action is done, the results of it will keep feeding the same information into our brain continuously over time): Decorating your living accordingly, creating new positive and binding friendships, spending time in places that make you feel good, relaxed and motivated.

Somewhere between conscious and subconscious programming is the combined way of doing it. You may have heard of it – it’s called hypnosis.

Regardless of what works best for you, it is repetition that is at the core of reprogramming your subconscious mind and creating new beliefs. Getting out of the captivity of negativity, surrounding yourself with consistently positive thoughts and emotions and actually starting to love yourself is the most important factor in achieving your goals continuously and becoming truly unstoppable. Do this successfully and your energy level will rise, your mind will become more calm, focused, relaxed and clear of its purpose. And in the mornings that subconscious mind will tell you to go take the maximum out of the day!

This state of mind combined with the tips at the beginning of this article will create a truly unstoppable human being. As Anthony Robbins puts it, this is the state where you can Unleash the Power Within.

Be Prime Triumph

Technology has become a big part of our everyday lives, it inevitably influences our subconscious minds and therefore also our actions. So we at BePrime have decided to build a personal-development platform not only to offer the infrastructure containing all the necessary functions to help you achieve your goals in life but also to help reprogram your subconscious mind accordingly.

We have gathered knowledge from successful and well-known scholars and businessmen, and modernized the approach to suit the 21st century needs. Together we can help the Good Wolf triumph inside each one of us every single day!

Merry Christmas and Spectacular New Year, dear BePrimers!

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Commit to it! BePrime!