Do You Know What to Do to Change Your Life?

January 6, 2016

We commonly make resolutions upon starting a new year or a new era of our lives to change or start doing something to benefit ourselves.

These resolutions are meant to at least make our lives happier, and are usually associated with leading a better, healthier life. Not surprisingly, losing weight, exercising more, or quitting smoking are three of the most common resolutions.

But many think that these resolutions are useless, perhaps from personal experience. In fact, a study by Scranton University revealed that only about 8% of all New Year’s resolutions are kept. This incredibly low success rate is primarily due to the fact that our resolutions tend to focus on self-criticism rather than actual aspirations or desires.

Putting our resolutions through this filter of self-criticism sets us up for failure. Instead, we should make resolutions from a different angle – if they are reachable, rewarding goals, it is much easier for us to improve our quality of life, which means we will be happier.

6 pieces of advice to achieve your goals, to live longer, and to be happier

1. Be more aware

Meditating on ourselves and what we really want to achieve greatly helps the process along. We spend way too much time worrying about others and unwittingly make resolutions based on our exterior as opposed to our interior, where they should be focused.

And this makes us falter just as our relationships with others do. Other times, we fail in keeping our resolutions because we become too dependent on other people to do so.

But taking time to consciously reflect on why we want to achieve something puts us in the center of the resolution, and thus we avoid letting outside elements squander our efforts or put our goals into question.

2. Do exercises for a healthy mind

Getting in shape is one of the most popular resolutions every time the New Year rolls around, often for vain purposes. However, physical exercise is far more rewarding than it seems at first glance.

Daniel Siegel and Davi Rock developed a program consisting of seven essential mental activities that they recommend daily in order to optimize brain function and improve overall well-being. One of these activities involves “physical time,” in which you do aerobics exercises meant to strengthen the brain.

The program is called The Healthy Mind Platter. Exercise not only makes us stronger physically, but also mentally. In fact, it has been shown that aerobic exercise helps combat stress and depression.

3. Get enough sleep

Sleep well, and sleep enough. I would repeat this over and over. Most of us are aware of the importance of eating well and exercising, but we may or may not do it. But for some reason, it is hard for us to recognize the importance of getting enough sleep.

We often rob ourselves of sleep to work or study, and ignore the fact that sleeping would help us be far more productive and efficient in our work. But we feel guilty, even lazy, if we sleep, and prefer to sacrifice it. How cruel is that? Other times, we simply procrastinate sleeping.

According to William C. Dement and Christopher Vaughan, authors of the book The Promise of Sleep, it has been empirically proven that a healthy amount of sleep is the most important predictor of longevity, being more influential in our life expectancy than our diet, exercise, or genetics. They connect lack of sleep to heart disease, traffic accidents, and “immeasurable mental and psychological handicaps.”

Furthermore, research shows that sleep loss can impair cognitive performance whereas sufficient sleep improves cognition. Everyone should be prioritizing sleep in their schedules.

4. Differentiate yourself from the past

Making resolutions accompanies a revision of the things we want to change about ourselves. If you want to change to be happier, to live longer and better, you need to know who you want to be, what life you want to live, and why – without forgetting to consider what needs to be done to actually achieve it.

This will help us differentiate ourselves from the past and avoid dragging it into the future. Unwittingly, new behaviors tend to have foundation in the past, which prevents us from moving forward. We have to leave the past behind, and look forward.

5. Challenge your internal critic

Ignore the inner voice that holds you back from what you set out to achieve. Ignore the voice that tells you that you cannot do it, that you have no reason to do it, or that it would be fine to give in to temptation just once. Ignore the voice that tells you that you are already too old to do something, that it is already too late for you, or that it just isn’t worth the effort to try. You need to be able to identify that voice as your number one enemy and to confront it. It will make you stronger and freer.

6. Move toward lasting changes

Take a proactive and positive approach to your goals and give yourself an opportunity to achieve lasting changes. Your goals and resolutions should always be aimed at bettering yourself and being the best person you can be. You must be brave in your battle to challenge and overcome deeply rooted behaviors so that you can be free.

You will live a longer life. You will live a better life. And you will live a happier life.