Amy Morin, Contributor to Forbes
Mental strength trainer and international bestselling mental strength author
Losing weight, going to the gym, and getting healthy are among the most popular New Year's resolutions. But, the sad reality is, most people will fail to meet their goals. Research indicates only 8% of people make their New Year’s resolutions stick.
The biggest reason people fall short of their goals is because they’re focusing on the wrong things. Your body won’t do what your mind won’t make it. So rather than focus on building physical strength, commit to building mental strength.
Developing mental muscle is the key to self-discipline, delayed gratification, grit, and perseverance. So, whether your goal is to save more money or you hope to make 2020 the year you face your fears, becoming mentally stronger will help you succeed.
Here are five resolutions that will help you build mental strength this year:
1. I will practice self-compassion.
The way you think affects how you feel and how you behave. Beating yourself up when you make mistakes, calling yourself names, and constantly criticizing your performance will only hold you back.
Commit to developing a kinder, more compassionate inner dialogue. Talk to yourself the same way you’d speak to a trusted friend and you’ll become more motivated to create lasting change.
2. I will become more aware of my feelings.
Your emotions influence how you interpret events and how you make decisions. Anxiety may cause you to avoid risks and sadness may lead you to settle for less, for example.
Spend a few minutes every day thinking about how you’re feeling. Label your emotions and acknowledge that your feelings from one area of your life will spill over into other areas.
When you’re aware of how you’re feeling, you can take steps to balance your emotions with logic. Whether you’re contemplating moving to a new city or you’re thinking about applying for a new position, making good decisions is the key to becoming your best self.
3. I will spend at least 15 minutes per day in quiet reflection.
It’s easy to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you don’t take a single minute to think. But without a little quiet time, how do you know how you’re doing in terms of your goals?
Set aside 15 minutes every day to just think. Reflect on your day and think about what you want to do better tomorrow. Your quiet time could become the most instrumental part of your day.
4. I will establish a weekly goal for myself.
Establish a small, yet challenging goal for the week. Whether you want to run 10 miles or you plan to apply for two new jobs, write down your intentions. Research shows if you write your goals down, you’ll increase your chances of success by 42%.
Get specific by setting your intentions of when and where and you’ll skyrocket your chances of success. So rather than saying, “I’ll go to the gym three times,” say, “I’ll go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday right after work.”
Each small goal you set gives you an opportunity to flex your mental muscles. With each success, you’ll build confidence and be motivated to keep going.
5. I will identify three things I’m grateful for every day.
Recognizing the good things in life is a simple, but effective way to build mental strength. Studies have linked gratitude to a multitude of benefits, ranging from improved sleep to reduced psychological distress.
Writing in a gratitude journal can be especially effective. Identify three things you’re grateful for each day and you’ll train your brain to start looking for the good things in life. You’ll also proactively ward off bad mental habits, like self-pity, which can rob you of mental strength.
Build Your Mental Muscle All Year
Mental strength training isn’t about setting one goal for yourself in January. Instead, genuine self-improvement should be about becoming a little better each day throughout the entire year.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling too many goals at one time. Start with one change you want to make.
Maybe you’ll decide to start a gratitude journal in January. Then, in February, you decide to commit to creating more time for reflection. Over time, you’ll build more mental muscle and your other goals in life—fitness or otherwise—will become easier to achieve.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.