If you are like many others, you made yourself a list of well-meaning resolutions for 2020. A few weeks into the new year, most have already lost ground or abandoned those resolutions completely. Know why? Because the top things that keep most people from sticking to their resolutions are 1) Unrealistic expectations, 2) No plan, and 3) Going it alone.
Let's look at reason #1 today.
Sometimes we make resolutions that are dramatic changes for us. They sound good as we are in the vision of looking ahead at the fresh new year, but they are completely unrealistic for reasons of time, finances, or the shear amount of change they represent in a short amount of time.
I'd like to introduce you to a part of your brain called the amygdala, a collection of cells near the base of the brain. This is where emotions are given meaning, remembered, and attached to associations and responses to them (emotional memories). The amygdala is considered to be part of the brain’s limbic system and it’s key to how you process strong emotions like fear and pleasure.
The frontal lobes are the two large areas at the front of your brain. They’re part of the cerebral cortex, which is a newer, rational, and more advanced brain system. This is where thinking, reasoning, decision-making, and planning happen. We make resolutions with the help of our frontal lobes.
Big changes trigger the amygdala into fear, causing what's referred to as "Amygdala Hijack". The amygdala puts you into a low grade fight or flight response, essentially sabotaging the very resolution you made to improve some area of your life. Because of this potential response, it is always better to make changes in small increments. Baby steps, right? You want to eat better? Great! Don't clear the pantry of every snack, cereal, dessert and processed food and go completely vegan overnight. Make one adjustment each week. Cutting out soft drinks this week, replace sugar next week with stevia or xylitol the next, increase your fruit/vegetable servings the week after. You get it...it takes longer to get to where you want to go, but you drastically increase your chances of getting there at all if you are willing to do it this way. Slow and steady wins the race!
Next post we'll talk about having a plan.