Feeling a bit early to talk about 2024 resolutions? While the mince pies are just making their entrance and the Christmas tree is waiting in the wings, it might be the perfect time to lay the groundwork for a successful new year. Eldin Hasa, a neuroscientist, human behavior expert, and transformation coach, offers insights into the benefits of kickstarting your resolutions in November.
Why the Early Start?
January often brings the pressure to set resolutions, but it's a challenging time. Post-Christmas slump, colder weather, and a general reluctance for change can make it tough. Contrary to the widely believed 21-day habit formation period, a study by University College London suggests it takes an average of 66 days to rewire a new habit into automatic behavior. Depending on personal factors, this process might extend to eight months. By beginning now, healthier choices made early can lead to a new and improved lifestyle by the end of December.
Five Reasons for a November Resolutions Kickoff
1. Habit Formation
Starting early allows ample time for the brain to form new habits, creating a solid foundation for long-term success.
2. Planning Advantage
Initiating resolutions in November provides the opportunity for thorough planning, helping outline goals, anticipate challenges, and develop a well-structured strategy.
3. Building Momentum
Taking proactive steps early on generates psychological momentum, boosting motivation and confidence for sustained commitment.
4. Avoiding New Year's Pressure
Many set lofty resolutions in January only to abandon them within the first few weeks due to immense pressure and high expectations. Starting in November fosters a more pragmatic and sustainable mindset.
5. Enhancing Accountability
Sharing resolutions with others and seeking support early on strengthens accountability, providing the necessary encouragement and motivation to stay on course.
Addressing Resolution Roadblocks
From a neuroscientific perspective, resolutions often fail due to misalignment of intentions and emotions, self-limiting beliefs, and negative subconscious patterns. Here are some steps to tackle these roadblocks:
- Regular Check-ins: Assess your inner state regularly to maintain balance and avoid stress.
- Language Adjustment: Replace negative statements with open-ended questions, fostering a problem-solving mindset.
- Recognize, Unlearn, and Relearn: Identify negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and use cognitive reframing techniques to rewire thinking patterns.
- Thought Control: Challenge and reframe self-limiting beliefs, replacing negative thoughts with positive and empowering ones.
- Emotion Regulation: Adopt strategies like deep breathing, journaling, or seeking professional guidance to manage emotions effectively.
- Visualization and Affirmations: Utilize visualization techniques and affirmations to reinforce positive mindsets and beliefs.
- Detailed Goal Setting: Instead of listing resolutions like a shopping list, think deeply about each goal, visualize the end result, and engage your emotions to rewire the brain.
- Enhancing Neuroplasticity: Challenge yourself intellectually and embrace new experiences to establish fresh neural connections.
The Gratitude Factor
While there's no magic bullet for success, gratitude emerges as a powerful tool. Rewiring the brain to maintain a constant state of gratitude, regardless of external circumstances, can positively impact self-reflection and propel individuals toward their goals.
An early start provides a strategic advantage for cultivating positive habits, planning effectively, building psychological momentum, avoiding the new year burden, and enhancing accountability. By understanding and addressing factors contributing to resolution failure, coupled with proactive steps and gratitude, individuals can set themselves on a path to a successful and fulfilling new year.