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Why you shouldn’t set New Years Resolutions

The beginning of the new year usually kicks off with one huge party, and then one wakes up on the first of January, no matter how early or late it may be, and may realise… that’s it. The new year is here. And suddenly there is a void that actually feels inexplicable.

The gap has to do with the raw process of the previous year’s ideals, dreams and hopes that may never have come true. But also with the uncertainty that the new year may hold. People actually mourn in small and big ways over various things every day. And a large portion of this has to do with New Year’s intentions.

No matter what pressure you experience from inside or outside the media or your culture, try to avoid making big New Year’s intentions. Your brain is not designed to maintain large extravagant, and unrealistic intentions. And when you struggle to stick to the intention, it can erode your self-confidence on a conscious or unconscious level.

People make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, to improve yourself, or increase your quality of life, thus setting an expectation. But without understanding the brain, you set yourself up for failure. Freud spoke of the Life Drive, which is the inherent intention to be better, to improve and to strive. Because man predominantly does not feel good enough.

When your intention is too far from your current habits, your brain feels like it is in danger. It’s a trauma response, and no new fantastic habits come from such a place.

Intentions such as “I’m going to exercise every day from now on” or “I’ll never eat sugar again”, or “I’m going to lose 40kg this year”, are a problem because these intentions send the brain into fear-mode because the expectation is too far away from your ordinary, familiar life.

True transformation takes place through small daily choices and habits that you know 100% you can follow.

It also helps to work on a sliding scale. So adjust your intention as you become their boss. For example, for the first three months, drink one extra glass of water a day, then two, then three. Or waking up every morning just 10min earlier to go for a walk, then you add a workout routine, and then you also get out to the gym. Baby steps.

This also builds or restores self-confidence, because through small changes the brain does not feel threatened or that it is in a dangerous situation. Also celebrate every little victory, and promise you have kept to yourself. Stay determined and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in a few months.

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