Every year, people ring in the new year with goals they wish to achieve or changes they want to make in their lives. An opportunity for a fresh start and a new beginning can feel so freeing to us. We get to begin again, decide who we want to be, and take the actions necessary to improve and reach the goals we set for ourselves.
Whether you decide to start eating healthier, going to the gym more, saving money, or begin practicing self-care, make this year the year of new beginnings. Keep reading to understand how our brains process habits and how to create a new year’s resolution for yourself that you will stick to in 2020.
It’s much easier to break bad habits and create new, healthier ones than you might think - if you know the science behind how you process habits.
Think of the first time you ever rode a bike. You had to learn how to sit on the seat while balancing, pedaling correctly, and knowing how to brake when needed. It took time, lots of practice, and even more mental and physical energy to learn the technique. But with practice, it became easier, and you got better. Now you can jump on a bike and ride it without thinking because it has become habitual.
All habits become ingrained within us after we process something called “the habit loop.” Charles Duhigg discusses the concept in his book The Power of Habit. He explains that the habit loop consists of three steps: cue, routine, and reward. Those three steps help us develop new neural-pathways and form habits in response. Step one, the cue, triggers us to behave in a certain way. The responsive behavior is step two, routine. The final step, reward, consists of the rewarding chemicals that are produced in the brain and help us remember to engage in the behavior in the future when seeing the cue.
If change doesn’t happen immediately, it’s okay. If you have a relapse day where you eat unhealthy foods, that’s okay too. That may be part of the process, and to be successful in reaching your goals, you have to let go of your unrealistic expectations for yourself. Stay disciplined, but don’t be so hard on yourself that you become discouraged.
A lot of times, change can invoke anxious thoughts and feelings within us. We all know that stress and anxiety, unfortunately, connect to other issues like sleep deprivation, changes in diet, irritability, and difficulty focusing. Make sure to get enough sleep and the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. And remember, change is a part of life. You’re working to become a new version of yourself that will look back on how far you’ve come and be proud of the person you are now.
This year, set goals that you can achieve and stick to. Here are some tips to consider as you make a New Year’s resolution for 2020:
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