How to Outsmart Ditch Day
Have you ever heard of Ditch Day? And no, we’re not talking about skipping out on your high school classes or excusing yourself from a bad blind date and never returning. Ditch Day is a scientific thing, people. And it’s today. Yup. According to researchers who study human behavior, January 17th is the date by which many people abandon their New Year’s resolutions. Kind of sad, right?
Sure, we understand that most of you go-getters are still keeping on and going strong with your goals (go, you!). But if you’re teetering on the brink of throwing in the towel, we’re here to help.
For starters, give yourself a pat on the back for even making a resolution, says Michael Brustein, PsyD., a clinical psychologist in New York City. “Setting a New Year’s resolution helps people commit to a goal and move from contemplating — which is thinking about change — into the action phase, which is engaging in ‘change behavior,’” says Dr. Brustein. So then why do studies indicate only about 10 percent of people actually accomplish their goals?
WHY WE LOSE MOMENTUM
1. You aimed for too many ch-ch-changes.
New Year’s resolutions are meant for self-improvement, not a total personality overhaul. Dr. Brustein recommends taking stock of your “emotional gas tank” then picking one attainable goal to set yourself up for success. “Trying to accomplish two goals simultaneously can be exhausting, leading to failure and deplete your gas tank,” says Dr. Brustein.
2. You didn’t give yourself the clarity you need.
In the case of #NewYearNewYou, the devil is in the lack of details, because a roadmap to success is the key to seeing your resolution through to the very end. “For example, if you want to work out more over the New Year, you need to identity all the specifics in the beginning of the journey,” says Dr. Brustein. “The days, times, clothes and specific exercises should be mapped out. Without clear goals, the ambiguity can lend itself to rationalizations such as I can do it tomorrow.”
3. You self-sabotaged.
We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to making changes. Whether it’s putting an extra turn on the wheel or picking clean greens over processed foods, it’s easy to tell yourself you don’t actually care about your resolution or that you aren’t strong enough to achieve it. But the truth is, mind over matter is scientifically proven to significantly improve the success of New Year’s resolutions.
“Mental gymnastics, such as self-handicapping, are devised to protect one’s self-esteem in the short run, but are a recipe for unhappiness and regret in the long run,” Dr. Brustein shares. “Keep in mind that if you try and do not achieve your goals at the end of the day, you can have peace of mind that you did everything you could and be proud that you put the effort in.”
HOW TO GET BACK ON TRACK
Now that we’ve got few weeks of 2017 under our belt, how do we recommit to our goals?
1. Tell your friends.
The more vocal you are about your goal, the more likely you are to work to achieve it. Share your resolutions with friends, family, coworkers —all of whom can help hold you accountable. “Having that outside accountability is not a weakness, but a strength illustrating you have the courage to let someone in and help you help yourself,” Dr. Brustein says.
2. Track your progress.
Keep a diary or journal to track your progress and increase your personal accountability — is there anything better than crossing a to-do off your list?
3. Watch an inspirational flick.
Feeling overwhelmed by your goal? Take a breath and a beat and press play on your favorite song, show or film to reset your motivation. “Personally, many people I work with find that re-watching Rocky can get their blood flowing,” says Dr. Brustein. “In life, your biggest opponent may not be Apollo Creed, but rather self-doubt and fear. Confront your fear and yourself and let Hollywood help you light that match.”
4. Create positive reinforcements.
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and similarly, you’ll realize your resolutions faster with healthy encouragement rather than negative messaging. Create checkpoints throughout your journey to reward yourself with micro-reinforcements if you attain a certain goal. Stay on track for two weeks straight? Try treating yourself to a new tech gadget or a massage or downloading some new music. “Just knowing a treat is associated with a certain behavior will increase the probability of following through,” Dr. Brustein says. “Pairing two actions together can be very reinforcing.”
Of course, the best reward of all is reaching your goal, looking back… and savoring your success. You’ve TOTALLY got this. So let’s deny Ditch Day its glory. Tomorrow’s looking brighter and more badass already!