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What is a good New Year’s resolution?

by Theo Wilson

New Year's Resolution For 2021

2020 is finally over. For many a new calendar year means one big thing: new year’s resolutions. Some have already started writing theirs. Others think they’re a waste of time. Some resolutions seem to work better than others. This prompts the question: what is a good new year’s resolution? It’s not that certain resolutions are necessarily better than others. It’s more a case of how we approach them. At a basic level, any resolution is a good idea. Set a goal for the year, aiming for some form of personal self-improvement.

The problem is that lots of new year’s resolutions tend to fizzle out. Setting ourselves goals which we fail to reach, for various reasons. There is hope, though. It turns out that there are a couple of simple tricks which can help a person to achieve their resolution. We’ll take you through how to think about your resolution and how to approach it. Hopefully, this will set you up to be your best self in 2021.

“Top 5” New Year’s Resolutions

Googling terms such as “best,” “most common” or “most popular” New Year’s resolutions, there are a handful that crop up time and time again. This isn’t a top five in terms of them being the “best,” but simply the most common. In order, the list looks like this:

  1. Exercise more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Save money
  5. Learn something new (a skill or hobby)

Roughly what one might expect; long-term goals pertaining to improving personal health and wealth. These are all pretty solid choices. There’s a catch, though. Research shows that a majority fail to stick to their resolutions for longer periods of time. In fact, research suggests that by as early as February, 45% will have failed to keep their resolutions. Perhaps this is something you’ve experienced before. A new year comes around and we set ourselves a heap of really ambitious goals. For example, someone might decide something like “I’m going to hit the gym every day!” or “I’m going to lose 10 lbs by February!” or “I’m going to quit smoking, cold turkey” after a long-term pack-a-day smoking habit.

It’s easy to picture how this might go. The first week of January rolls around. Folks start off by exercising every single day, putting themselves on crash diets where they only eat salads and smoothies 3 meals a day, or throw out all their remaining cigarettes and lighters. Chances are, they are attempting to make a pretty drastic change to their everyday lifestyle. This is going to be much harder to keep up in the long run. Someone who’s a total couch potato won’t be able to immediately adapt to jogging every day for an hour. Suddenly cutting our daily food intake in half is going to leave us really hungry. If a smoker goes from 20 cigarettes a day to none at all, they’ll experience a range of withdrawal symptoms.  So, how do we make our resolutions achievable?

How To Come Up With A New Year’s Resolution

There is one thing to do before worrying about whether a resolution is a good one, and how to achieve it. Come up with a resolution. For some people it’s instinctive. Others may have had a “eureka” moment: a sudden realisation that something needs to change. In most cases, coming up with a resolution requires some soul-searching.

Although setting a resolution requires some deep thought, it does not need to be complicated. Think about how you live your life and ask yourself what it is you want to change. It is important at this stage that you are totally honest with yourself. Don’t think about what you “should” be doing differently - think about what you want to do differently.

Do not underestimate the strength of willpower. Conventional thinking tells us that failing to achieve certain goals comes down to a lack of willpower. There is some truth to this. However, this does not really stem from an innate lack of willpower. Rather, it typically results from setting a specific goal which you are not truly motivated towards. Therefore, we need to be honest with ourselves when coming up with new year’s resolutions. Someone setting a goal that they truly want to achieve will experience a greater feeling of willpower. That way, they set themselves up for greater success.

How To Stick To A New Year’s Resolution

So, you’ve had an honest conversation with yourself and come up with a proper resolution. Meaning: a change that you really want to make. That is the crucial first step. We’ve mentioned the importance of willpower when it comes to sticking to your resolution. That being said, most people won’t be able to pull through on strength of will alone. Luckily, there are a few tactics and methods available that will help strengthen a person’s resolve, and improve their ability to make positive lifestyle changes in the long run.

A study by researchers at Swedish universities found that how we phrase our resolution can make a big difference in how successful we are in keeping it. One of the conclusions reached by the study was this: rather than phrasing a resolution in terms of “I will stop…” and instead phrasing it in terms of “I will start to…”  we will have a greater chance of achieving our goal.  This article also notes an important point: erasing unwanted behaviour is harder than replacing it with more desirable behaviour.

Even so, there are simple yet effective methods we can use for squashing unwanted behaviour. An article in Forbes describes ‘The amazing power of “I don’t” vs. “I can’t”’. Like the study above, it notes that ridding oneself of old habits is harder than adopting new ones. However, there is a particularly useful strategy in this. Although the terms “don’t” and “can’t” may seem interchangeable, researchers believe there is a strong psychological difference between the two. It’s about agency and self-empowerment. If you tell yourself that you can’t do something, you’re imposing a restriction on yourself. If you tell yourself that you don’t do something, then you are making an active choice - you feel more empowered.

With all of this in mind, let’s consider one of the most common recurring new year’s resolutions.

Quit Smoking

So, you’ve decided to make it your New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. First off: congratulations! Making that decision is a big first step. Quitting smoking is one of the most common resolutions we set ourselves each year. It is also one of the most challenging resolutions to keep. Don’t be put off by this though. More likely than not, by accepting and recognising the challenge, you’re actually setting yourself up for a higher chance of success.

In fact, making the decision to go smoke free has already overcome the first major hurdle. To increase the chances of success, there are a few factors to consider. Let’s look at some of them.

The Importance Of Making A Plan

The effectiveness of going cold turkey when it comes to quitting smoking is hotly contested. Technically, it is doable. At the same time, most people would agree that it is extremely difficult. After all, we know that nicotine is highly addictive, both mentally and physically.

So, even if someone had a superhuman amount of sheer willpower that would allow them to overcome psychological addiction, they would still be undergoing physical withdrawal symptoms. Besides, for most people under normal circumstances, the mental addiction will be just as much a challenge as the physical addiction. One has to be strategic about quitting smoking.

As mentioned, this requires being honest with ourselves. Try to gain a realistic sense of your addiction level, and think about what you can do to bring that level down. Which brings us to …

Setting Concrete, Achievable Goals

Let's say we have an end goal which is to quit smoking entirely. This is not something that’s going to happen overnight. We will need to plan out a literal exit strategy.

Let's run through a common scenario, come New Year’s Day we could tell ourselves “That’s it, No more cigarettes from now on.” Maybe we manage for about two days, then crack. “One cigarette couldn’t hurt, right?” make an excuse, allow that one cigarette, and with it comes a sense of guilt.  Which means we’re only a few days into the new year and have already failed our resolution. There’s no real plan to the approach. There is an end goal, but there is no path mapped out for reaching that goal which is critical.

What if instead we told ourselves something like this. “Starting on New Year’s Day, I will smoke less and less. By mid-March, I intend to be completely smoke free.” That’s essentially the same end goal as in the example above. The key difference is that it’s already formulated in clearer terms, with some thought given to the approach. It could be even more concrete; in the first week,  smoke just one cigarette less a day than normally would. No great sacrifice. Most people probably won’t even miss that single cigarette each day. By the end of the week, that’s seven fewer cigarettes smoked. By the end of the first month, that’s 31 fewer cigarettes.

However, we still know that this is easier said than done. Yes, the first step to quitting is making the decision to go smoke free. Success is more likely when we map out a clear plan. Even so, this doesn’t guarantee success - and that’s okay. After all, smoking is extremely addictive, so there’s nothing wrong with using every possible tool at our disposal.

Switching Habits

Switching habits is easier than erasing habits. Saying “I will start to…” is more effective than saying “I will quit…”. Of course, we could say “I will start to smoke fewer cigarettes.” That’s a good start, but it’s still based more on erasing a habit than on switching habits. This can be made still more concrete and achievable. For example, the initial goal could be “I will replace half of my daily cigarettes with a vape kit.”

By doing this, a smoker would avoid the pitfalls of nicotine withdrawal, and minimise the chances of a relapse. It’s normal for smokers to feel a sense of loss when trying to quit. After all, a habit that forms a large part of their everyday routine has suddenly been removed. Rather than erasing the old smoking habit entirely they would slowly and steadily be replacing it. Rather than leaving a gaping hole in their everyday life, they would be filling that space with an alternative that’s safer, healthier and cheaper.

At myCigara, we know how difficult it can be to quit smoking. That’s why we offer a huge range of e liquid and vape kits in all shapes, size and strengths. Vaping has been proven to be highly effective for smokers looking to quit. You’ve already made a great decision by choosing to quit; let us help you do so effectively. If you’re worried about making the switch, we’ve got you covered. Check out our brand new, in-depth guide to some of the best vape kits to help you quit smoking in 2021.

Start You New Year's Resolution Today

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