What to do before your New Year’s resolution


January is the season of the stuck moment. It’s the time when, collectively, we want to fix what we think is wrong with us. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But we want to propose a twist to the strategy: Take something we’re good at and become even better.

One of the main reasons New Year’s resolutions go out the window is that we start from a place of weakness. Whatever it is we’re trying to change, we don’t have much experience at, so our resolve and habit-building efforts need to be especially strong (which isn’t always the case). This comes down to brain chemistry: Creating new habits requires building billions of new neural connections, which can exhaust our willpower and mental resources.

But if we flip it, start from a stance of strength by building on existing, well-formed neural pathways, our chances of success go way up. Not that it’s just about winning — it’s equally about the benefit of winning, namely confidence. A positive spiral is created when we can take our freshly earned confidence and unleash it on something that needs fixing (a.k.a., a big stuck moment). That strong belief in ourselves, combined with determination, gives us more power to get unstuck.

Think of it as getting better at what we’re good at so we can get good at what we’re bad at.

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