Stick to your resolutions using positive emotions

new resolution: cold showers - comic
This article takes part in the french event “Your best tip to stick to your resolutions” from the blog Devenez Meilleur. This blog is created by Olivier Roland, author of the Blogger Pro course that I am currently attending for this blog.
TheDevenez Meilleur blog features  many inspirational articles, translated from English to French. They all link to the original post so you can actually read it in English. My favorite article is this one : “Comment arrêter d’être déçu” ( a translation  of Steve Pavlina’s article  How to Stop Being Disappointed ).

How many times have you taken a new resolution ? And how many times did you manage to stick to it ? Changing one’s habits is often a difficult experience, including the fear of failure. For the chronically tired people, this is even more common : we constantly try to change our habits in order to get better – nutrition, exercises, meditation, cold showers, yoga, sleep… anything !

Here is the tip that works best for me. But first and foremost, it’s important to make sure that the resolution you’re taking does make sense to you. Wanting to stick to a resolution that doesn’t suit you is like shooting a bullet in your own foot…

Why this resolution ?

unknown road - comic

Taking a resolution is good. Taking a meaningful resolution is better.

What is the meaning of this resolution for me ?

Do not take a resolution that does not make sense to you. Even if social networks say it’s amazing, always ask yourself if these new habits will bring you as much (if not more) benefits than constraints.

I’m a winner and that’s what the winners do !

Well.. I think…

The cliché of being better, being a winner, being a fighter is found too often in motivation articles. This is not a model that works for everyone and it shouldn’t be followed if you don’t truly believe in it or if you simply work differently.

Going through a new habit without really understanding has very few chances to work. Don’t go running because everyone does it. It must make sense to you !

Is it good for me ?

Certain habits are beneficial for most people : exercising, taking cold showers, reducing meat consumption… but if it happens to be true for the majority, what shall we do with the minority that doesn’t fit in ? When chronically ill, we often follow the exceptions…

guy saying "really?" - comic

Keep a critical eye on these “good habits”, which are good for others. The most famous example is the push / crash effect, often experienced by people with chronic fatigue : you feel good so you decide to exercise (for some, it is limited to a simple housing task). Unfortunately, you use more energy than your body can afford and it will take several days to recover. Learn how to adjust your resolutions to your specificities, your abilities, your condition… well, to yourself ! (and this rule may apply to everyone !)

For some resolutions, there is no need to wonder for too long though : learning a new language, for example, is always a good idea ! Anyway, it’s not gonna make you sick !

One at a time

Sometimes, especially at the beginning of the year, we take too many resolutions at once, and we want to do everything at 100 %… Unless you are one of a kind, it is usually failing pretty fast.

big races - comic

My tip : use positive emotions

Most advertising campaigns aim to use your emotions in order to make you buy a specific product. You can use this trick on yourself for much a more profitable purpose ! Depending on the new habit you want to adopt, the angle may be change a bit : for example, you can either create a new positive experience, or alternatively, replace an existing negative emotion with a positive one.

We get too often the idea that a new resolution is a new constraint. It’s a bad start.

Turning constraints into a gam

I think we all kept a soul of a child. So you could try and transform your new resolution into a game. Many mobile apps even do it for you. For example, to learn Dutch, I use the Duolingo app. The latter uses a whole playful ecosystem of rewards that makes me practice a little every day. Result ? I am today exactly on a 365 days streak ! Champagne !

Duolingo badges - screenshot
Duolingo badges
365 days in a row - screenshot
365 days in a row !

guy with a dutch flag - comic

Yes… but hey, how do I turn a cold shower into a game ?

Well, it doesn’t always work that easily for everything… (even though…) But you can still use the emotions at your own advantage : why do we associate the cold with a negative emotion ? After all, it is up to us to reverse this association : think now that the cold is good for you, and pretend that you like it. These are not just words : I’ve been doing cold showers for 6 months now thanks to this technique !

Or, you can still try to add some fun : pretend it’s a bad joke that you made to yourself. Then curse yourself, and jump in ! Be creative.

forbid hot water to take a cold shower - game
A bad example, because paper and water don’t get along ^^

And for stopping sugar, how does it work ?

It is not always easy to find a positive association, it’s true. For my part, whether trying to stop sugar or starting a new diet, I do not hesitate to reward myself with delicious herbal teas. I take the time to smell it and taste it. I’m having a good time, I feel good, and hop, no longer cravings for sugar !

Do it with someone

Whether it’s a coach or just a friend, you can use someone to motivate you. Human interactions often bring emotions : “I do not want to disappoint my coach”, “I’ll spend a pleasant time with my friend”, etc.

happy people - comic

Consider your body as a child

Each resolution can be approached with a different angle. Take the example of meditation. It is very easy to think “today I don’t have time” and just skip it. To counter this, imagine that your subconscious is a different person, for example a child, and that it must be taken care of every day (with meditation). I think you will agree with me : there is no excuse for forgetting about your children. The guilt would be too strong. So take care of your body, and it will reward you in return !

monk who meditates - comic

Maintain a positive attitude

It is very easy to fall into the negative thinking : “I do not make any progress”, even “I’m getting worse”. Negative thoughts may cause destructive emotions such as defeat. But it is up to you to banish these thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts : “it’s been 2 months that I hang on to it without giving up.” The effect of positive thinking is terribly effective and unfortunately often underestimated.

Another example : if you have to give up on your resolution (for one reason or another), instead of thinking “I wasn’t good enough”, just think, “I know now that this habit is not not made for me, which let me move on into the right direction.”

Use inspirational quotes

Reading inspirational quotes can boost your emotions by reminding you that you have a goal and that you are on the right tracks. Put some at home, or as the background of your computer, and change them when they are no longer effective.

It isn’t worth spending hours trying to have a beautiful quote that you can post on Instagram (unless you really enjoy it). Be efficient.

If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse. - Jim Rohn.

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. – Jim Rohn.

Conclusion

It’s hard to use the very same trick to take cold showers, stop sugar, exercise, meditate, and so on. However, it is always possible to use your emotions ! Whether positive or negative, emotions always make us care. Learn how to tweak them, and use them for your own sake !

What about you ? Do you have a cool trick to stick to your resolutions ? Leave me a message in the comments !

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