An unscientific poll conducted at the Cosmo India headquarters revealed that the team Cosmo hasn't been particularly victorious with its past New Year resolutions. And we're not the only ones. According to research, a whopping 78% of all resolution-makers fail to meet their goals, and 25% give up in the first week itself! Depressing numbers, I know, but they led me to wonder what the successful 22% did differently. A lot, I learned, and contrary to what you might expect, it's got little to do with smarts or will power. So, to prevent the tragic demise of yet another set of NY resolutions, I'd like to reveal secrets that will finally help us lose weight/quit smoking/finish that book/whatever...
1. It's All In the Resolution!
If your list of goals includes travelling often, saving money, and spending more time with loved ones, you've already set yourself up for failure. When you aim to do too much, you scatter your energy and reduce chances of success. Instead, concentrate your will on just one concrete goal, and be specific about it. So, for instance, instead of saying 'I will travel more', resolve to 'travel thrice this year'.
2. Don't Rush Into It
If you plan to make or break a habit starting first thing tomorrow, I have some bad news for you—it won't work. When you rush into a last-minute promise, without prepping for it, you're less likely to see it through. Instead, set goals for two-three months later, and plan how you will meet them when the deadline comes a rollin'. Doing this will also help your imagine any obstacles you may encounter, so you can prepare solutions. For instance, if you'd like to start a blog, schedule it for March, instead of January. Then spend two months planning the content, marketing, photos, etc.
3. Train Your Brain
You know how scientists teach animals to do certain things by giving them specific cues and rewards? Your mind can be trained in the same way. To make it do the things you want it to, you need to create a cues-and-rewards system. First, set up a routine. For instance, if want to write a book, set aside a fixed daily time to work on it (like, 10am-12pm). Next, set up a reward system for your brain. Each time you complete what you wanted, treat yourself to something fun, like a TV show you love, or a piece of chocolate. The key is to reward yourself no more than 15 minutes after the activity—so your mind makes the association between the habit and the payoff. Over a few days, your mind will automatically associate the activity with reward, and over time, will begin to enjoy the activity, without even needing any motivation.
4. Delete Something Else
Most of us are already struggling with a packed schedule. So if your resolution needs time—like hitting the gym every day or starting a blog—you need to pencil it in, just the way you'd do a meeting or an event. This also means you'll have to let go of something else, like that extra hour lazing around in bed, or the after-work gossip chat with your colleagues. Treating your resolution like a to-do task (instead of just something you'll 'get to'), will make it more achievable.
Cosmo Editor Nandini Bhalla has too many obsessions for own good (mostly involving clothes, shoes, and bags). Follow her on Instagram: @nandinibhalla