Have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions yet? Maybe you want to stop eating out for every meal. Maybe you’ve got your sights set on joining a gym. Or, maybe you’re determined to finish writing that book you started a few years back.
It’s great to have goals, and the start of a New Year can serve as the perfect motivator. Unfortunately, though—New Year or not—many of us have a hard time sticking with and accomplishing our goals. We get sidetracked, we feel lazy, or we lose that initial motivation.
The good news is that there are a few scientific hacks that can help you finally reach your goals. Follow these 4 tips to achieve your New Year’s resolutions:
One, convert your goal into a habit. Research shows that habits and goals are stored differently in the brain. Due to these differences, it’s easy to forget about a goal we’ve set, but we’re less likely to neglect a habit we frequently engage in. So, turn your goal into a habit by working it into your daily routine and setting aside a specific time for it. For example, if your goal is to finish writing that book, sit down from 7:00-8:00 every night and pound away at your keyboard.
Two, find or create the right environment. Your brain connects surroundings to a specific situation or action. For example, it likely associates your bedroom with sleeping—which means your bedroom probably isn’t the best place to work toward your exercise goal. But the extra storage room might do the trick! Think about what an optimal environment looks like for your goal. Then, try a few on for size to see what actually works for you.
Three, chase the dopamine. Your brain releases dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone, when you get something you want. And those behaviors that trigger the release of dopamine quickly become your brain’s favorite activities. So, break your big goal up and celebrate the small victories to receive regular hits of this feel-good hormone. For example, if your main goal is to stop eating out, give yourself a pat on the back every time you say no to fast food or cook a meal at home.
Four, keep your goal a secret. Some swear by accountability partners, whose role is to help an individual stick with their commitment. But one particular study published in the Journal of Psychological Science says that it might be more beneficial to keep your goal to yourself. Researchers found that telling others about your goal can create a premature sense of achievement. So, try to keep it under wraps.
These 4 tips will help you accomplish your goals and find success in the New Year.