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Why Your New Year’s Resolution Should Be ‘No More New Year’s Resolutions’

By January 1, 2017January 17th, 2022No Comments

The New Year is a wonderful time of hope, optimism, and reflection, as we assess the past year and pave the way for the new one.

And it is the season for another inevitable tradition—the New Year’s Resolution!

Though difficult to admit, many of us keep our resolutions for just a couple weeks then feel as though we ‘failed.’

Change is hard.

Especially because most of the unhealthful habits we hang on to have become part of our daily routine, repeated endlessly for years.

It comes as little surprise that they cannot simply vanish with a snap of a finger (or with a New Year’s Resolution.)

Today, I would like to talk about how we can all enjoy lasting, successful change in the New Year by substituting resolutions for more reasonable and achievable goals.

Focus on One Thing at a Time

One of the main reasons New Year’s resolutions are doomed is that we often try to set goals which are way too big.

The truth is, the more massive the goal, the harder it is to achieve.

Attempting to make huge changes in our lifestyle in a short period of time rarely works.

Promising to follow any diet or an ‘impossible-to-stick-to’ exercise regime will often lead to a ‘crash and burn,’ leaving you feeling frustrated and demoralized.

Go slowly.

Avoid mega resolutions which include everything but the kitchen sink (e.g. start a new diet, exercise more, quit smoking, spend less time watching TV), all at the same time. This is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, pick one small habit you want to change and that you are confident you can accomplish.

Focus on the Principle of ONE.

Change ONE habit at a time, taking ONE month at a time.

Each month decide on a SINGLE new empowering habit you want to adopt (or an old disempowering habit you want to leave behind.)

As we shared in our blog post, Change Your Life Forever, One Habit at a Time, you have an 80 percent likelihood of retaining a habit for a year or more if you change a single behavior at a time.

When you try to change two behaviors at once, your chance of success plummets to less than 35 percent. And three habits? Your likelihood of success falls dramatically to under 5 percent.

Tackling one habit change at a time will keep you focused and far more likely to succeed.

Substitute Your Bad Habits With Good Habits

There is another way to ensure success too.

You need to apply the principle of Habit Substitution.

What this means is that each time you ‘get rid’ of a disempowering habit, it needs to be replaced by an empowering, positive one.

This seems to be the biggest mistake people make when they quit smoking.  They focus on ‘quitting’ without taking into consideration how they will replace their smoking habit. As a result, they may replace smoking with another disempowering habit (like overeating or eating sweets), which is one reason why many people put on weight when they try to quit their nicotine habit.

As the old adage says, “A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit.

So, if you choose to give up a habit in any given month, make sure to consciously choose a POSITIVE habit that will take its place.

Going back to our example of quitting smoking, you could adopt the habit of drinking water every time you want a cigarette, a far more positive habit than overeating.

As you work on your habit transformation, I just want to remind you that we are here for you and available to share advice that will help you move forward. Please always feel free to ask questions on our Facebook page, Instagram page, through Twitter or by emailing us.

Last but not least, go easy on yourself.

No one is perfect, but by setting measurable goals and moving forward with little steps, you can go far.

Change will not happen overnight.

Also remember to congratulate yourself for every accomplishment, no matter how small.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you. May your star shine brightly this year!

Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

President & CEO, Plant-Based Life Foundation | Dr. Rosane Oliveira combines a lifelong passion for nutrition with 25 years of genetics research to create programs that help people develop healthy habits on their journey towards a more plant-based lifestyle. She is a Visiting Clinical Professor in Public Health Sciences and was the founding director of the first Integrative Medicine program at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her postgraduate studies in Brazil and did her postdoctoral training in immunogenetics and functional genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.