Celebrity life coach Sloan Sheridan-Williams shares her expert advice based on scientific research on how you can make powerful lifestyle adaptations to help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions.
The reason why we make New Year’s Resolutions is to make our life more like the blueprint we have in our head about what makes us feel happy or successful. The problem is that many resolutions end up being no better than a wish list if there is no commitment or follow through. To make resolutions related to your health, relationships or finances that have impact and lasting effect, you have to see no other possibility and make all other unproductive avenues unavailable to yourself.
88% of New Year’s resolutions fail
Every year we make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, improve relationships and generally look after ourselves better but with a suggested 88% of resolutions failing, something isn’t working for us. When we look at the situation, we expect to make major changes to our lives but many of us do not prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead hence we give up on our dreams. It is clear that your brain is not automatically wired to succeed at keeping resolutions any more than your muscles are automatically wired to succeed at running a marathon without training beforehand yet every year people make resolutions which ask their brain to perform the mental equivalent without understanding what is going on.
You don’t change, you adapt
My celebrity clients often ask me how they can change a particular part of their life be it to stop smoking, lose weight, attract lasting love, let go of the past or overcome a fear that has been holding them back. My answer often surprises them because I simply say “You don’t change you adapt”. Change happens. You don’t need to work on change as it will happen anyway. Everything in life changes over time. This is automatic. Change is a given. At the base level, most living organisms know they must adapt or die, but humans are quite happy to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Adaptation which leads to progress requires work, effort and commitment but it is progress on a regular basis that makes you feel alive and will help you achieve your dreams.
We live who we believe we are
Human beings absolutely follow through on this without deviation. It is one of our strongest forces to stay consistent with how we define ourselves. Your identity is a reflection of your standards. You will only succeed if your raise your standards and create rituals to support them through consistent action.
Achieving constant progression in your life is not easy but it is simple. To successfully follow through with your career objectives you must adapt your rituals, making tweaks to your habits that you can keep to. Progression forward cannot happen until you learn how to take control of your life rather than allowing life to control you.
The Prefrontal Cortex and Willpower
The area of the brain responsible for willpower has been shown to be the prefrontal cortex. It is also responsible for short term memory and solving abstract problems. To succeed with your resolution you need to keep the prefrontal cortex “happy” and research has highlighted that willpower actually requires a stress-free environment with a lack of cognitive overload and stable energy levels. What this actually means is that you need to eat little and often and avoid stressful situations if you want to ensure that you have enough resolve and willpower to stick to your resolutions.
Willpower needs glucose
Florida State University conducted an experiment that showed that willpower actually requires energy, and that glucose levels dropped in subjects that had to demonstrate willpower. They further tested their theories and went on to find that by presenting subjects with a regular intake of sugar during such tasks their discipline was greater than the control group that had no sugar. Knowing that discipline and energy levels are directly related, we can use that to our advantage. If you eat little and often ingesting small controlled amounts of energy (preferably low GI, containing protein and a little sugar) you can help keep your willpower at optimum. It also means resolutions that can be carried out in the morning are likely to be more successful than those that require determination and willpower when you are fatigued.
Willpower needs a stress free environment
A study carried out in Michigan State University showed that when the brain is preoccupied with fight or flight responses from triggers such as crowded places or stressful situations, it struggles to find energy for willpower. It is as if it decides that determination is the least important function to power up and as such leaves us depleted of willpower and prone to make silly decisions. If your resolution includes weight loss, try shopping in supermarkets at quieter times of the day or take advantage of the 24 hours supermarkets or online delivery. Good nutrition will also help feed the energy cycle, and supplements for fatigue or mental fatigue are particularly useful to add into your routine if you are so inclined.
Willpower needs to avoid cognitive overload
Stanford University has conducted research that shows that subjects that had to remember a 2 digit number made better decisions than subjects that had to remember a 7 digit number. The conclusion was that the brain can only hold so much information and as little as 5 bits of information can be the difference between a good decision and a bad decision in relation to sticking to your resolution. The less information you have to deal with the stronger your determination to keep to your resolution. It is useful to take up yoga or mindfulness to keep calm and your brain free of stressful information allowing you to make the best decisions for you.
Keeping the prefrontal cortex happy is key to keeping your resolutions
If you want to get even more of an edge, exercise your brain like a muscle; remind it of its obligations and rest it with a minimum of a good 6 hours’ sleep. Scientific research also confirms that with regular training, constant but fun reminders and even as little as 1 hour more sleep a night, subjects are twice as likely to stick to their resolutions.
Adapt your habits
Another important factor in becoming a better version of yourself is to adapt your rituals and habits. Replacing old unhelpful habits with new helpful ones is key to successfully moving forward towards a more positive future. Progression forward cannot happen until you learn how to take control of your life rather than allowing life to control you. You can do this by thinking of your brain like a muscle that needs fuel and rest, reminding it regularly of its obligations and giving it the right conditions to function at optimum.
3 step plan for achieving your goals
Step 1 – Have a vision that inspires you
Avoid thinking about your “shoulds” and shift focus to your “musts”. You need to know your deal breakers, what you will and won’t accept from others but more importantly what you will no longer accept from yourself.
Step 2 – Have a drive and motivation that pulls you forward
A compelling vision will be able to produce the immense power of focus and energy. Pair that vision with a healthy mind and body and you are already on the road to success.
Step 3 – Have good reasons
You need to come up with compelling reasons for implementing the new habits first before looking for the answers that will get you the results you want.
Success and failure do not happen overnight but result from a culmination of small actions that build up over time. It’s important to take small steps consistently each and every day to move forward in your life. You can get the life you’ve always dreamed of and achieve long lasting results if you take powerful action to move forward in life.
About the expert
Sloan Sheridan-Williams is a uniquely talented celebrity life coach who has worked with rock stars to royalty and politicians to CEOs. Her VIP clients include Hollywood actors, professional athletes, reality TV stars and those committed to only accepting the extraordinary out of life. She also works with brands from startups to global leaders including Unilever, Honda, Hotels.com, Whirlpool and Booking.com to name a few.
She is a respected relationship expert who has been featured in the UK and international media over 150 times in print, on-air and online. Sloan is also a charismatic international speaker, radio presenter, media personality and author of the life-changing book “Slap Fear In The Face And Get Your Power Back”.