How to Effectively Make New Years Resolutions - Part I - Know Yourself - Aspire Natural Health

How to Effectively Make New Years Resolutions – Part I – Know Yourself

4232411010 3e7afe8a4e z - How to Effectively Make New Years Resolutions - Part I - Know Yourself

Part 1 HERE
Part 2 HERE
Part 3 HERE
Part 4 HERE
Part 5 HERE
Part 6 HERE
Part 7 HERE


We’re just days away from the New Year. It’s that time of year again where many of us sit down to think about what resolutions we want to set for ourselves. What we’re going to do differently this coming year. The most common one being – lose weight and get in shape.

Yet for most people, this goal lasts about 1-3 weeks, a fact the big box globo-gyms are counting on. Sign you up for a one year membership, have you come in 3-10 times and then sit back and collect your money for the rest of the year.


Why do we do this?

Before we can talk about effective goal setting, we have to get to know ourselves better, so we can see where most of us go wrong.

My favorite book on this topic is Switch by Chip & Dan Heath. Most of this post will be based around ideas from their book, so if you find this post at all interesting or helpful, I HIGHLY recommend you pick it up.


Frankenstein’s monster

While we like to think of ourselves as one whole being, study after study has shown that our brain / mind, is NOT one unit. It is actually made up of many parts, which often work together, and sometimes fight against each other.

For the purpose of this article, we can divide ourselves into two pieces:

  1. Rationality – what I will call the mind. This is thinking, planning, logical piece of ourselves. The part of you reading this article right now.
  2. Emotion – what I will call the heart. This is the feeling part of you. The part that may be hopeful, irritated, frustrated, sad, happy, etc. as you read this article.

While it feels to us that the mind holds the reins and is in control of our life, the reality is, as study after study has shown, this isn’t true. It’s the heart that’s in control.

If you’d like to learn more about how irrational we really are, I strongly recommend you take a look at the book Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

And when the mind and the heart disagree about something, the heart ultimately always wins (like Vegas).


The problem

The heart / our emotions are about immediate gratification and short-term thinking. More pleasure, less pain. The problem is, most of our goals, require short-term pain for long-term pleasure. Lose weight now, look great later. But to our heart, this doesn’t compute.


Well, that’s irritating…

Yes, but it comes out of the desire to survive. For millions (billions actually) of years our ancestors from primordial ooze on up have been focused on the next meal. If you don’t get it, you don’t make it. Not much time or need for long-term thinking.


To recap

  1. We have a rational (mind) side and an emotional (heart) side
  2. When they disagree, the heart will always ultimately win
  3. The heart is all about immediate gratification
  4. Most goals are about delaying immediate gratification for long-term gain
  5. This is a problem


What about willpower?

Of course it is possible for the mind to (temporarily) overpower the heart. We can force ourselves to put down the ice cream and go the gym. But, and this is perhaps the most important part of this article,

THE CRITICAL POINT: You have a limited amount of willpower.

This means ‘white knuckling’ it won’t work, and is why most people’s efforts to lose weight and go to the gym last between 1-3 weeks. After that their willpower is exhausted, the heart takes over and delaying immediate gratification stops. ‘Oh okay, I’ll skip working out today and treat myself to an ice cream sundae, after all I’ve been so good lately.’

We’ll continue this in part 2.


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Do it over and over