What resolutions or goals did you come up with the first of the year? How are they going for you?
We can set up resolutions or even goals to change habits at any time of the year. But often they don’t last for longer than three days. Have you ever wondered why that is?
It may surprise you, but it all comes down to brain science.
So many of us operate from this place of “determination” and “willpower”.
In other words, it’s that energy you get that Sunday night before you start the next diet on Monday. You know, the “I’m going to be this person tomorrow and I’m going to start following this plan and exercising and doing all these things.”
And we exercise that thing called willpower to get us through, but did you know willpower is actually a finite resource? Said differently, it doesn’t last. It’s a resource that’s limited, and really doesn’t drive long term behavior change.
A great analogy is to consider your cell phone battery. You plug in your cell phone during the night, you turn it on in the morning, you use it throughout the day and your cell phone battery is a lot like willpower… Throughout the day, it drains and gets lower, lower, and lower. And pretty soon, guess what?! Your cell phone will turn off if you don’t charge it again. That’s a lot like how willpower is used both in diet culture and any kind of resolution or goal setting.
We think, “Oh, we’re just gonna execute our willpower, and we’re gonna make it whatever that goal is.”
But when we use willpower, we’re actually sabotaging ourselves.
Because it’s a finite resource and we need to start working from a more infinite place so that behavior change can become longer term.
Take this for example…
We make over 100 decisions per day around food. Sometimes, much more than that. If we stop, and we think about all the moments, we are asking ourselves to make decisions each time we start thinking things like, “Am I hungry? Am I not hungry? What am I going to have? How much do I need to chew it? How much do I want to have?”
We end up having a lot of narratives that come into our brain, around our food choices. And we’re hoping that willpower will take care of all of those questions for the entire day, for the entire week, for the entire forever…
And it’s not just unrealistic, it is a completely broken strategy.
When you try to use willpower to break through those very ingrained neural pathways in the brain, it just does not work.
That’s why on the podcast this week, we talked through habits, the brain science behind them, and what you can do to effectively change habits for the long term. We wanted to help you set up some goals, resolutions- whatever you want to call them- and give you some tangible ways to actually move forward with those goals and resolutions that you may have for yourself.