How to make new year resolutions that you can follow through? The answer is, dig deeper into your resolutions — until you deeply feel for them.

Step1: Start digging into your resolution by confronting the question ‘Why?’

In most cases, the new year resolution is an answer to a question that begins with ‘What’.

For example, let’s say the resolution is about your health. It will perhaps read, “I will exercise for two hours every morning.” This is the answer to the question, “What will I do to improve my health in the new year?”

To dig into your resolution means, you answer the harder question that begins with a Why:  “Why do I want to improve my health?”

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Step 2: Dig deeper until you deeply feel for your resolution

To dig deeper means, you mull over the same question,“Why do I want to improve my health?”, until you become emotional about it. Perhaps you will remember the outing that you had to miss last month because of your poor health; the new job opportunity that you lost because of the failed health-test; or the marriage proposal that was turned down because of your obesity. Soon those memories will bring with them feelings of pain. Continue on, because the more the pain, the stronger will be your resolve to work on your health in the new year.

How does this work?   

The Srimad Bhagavatam, the literature that gives elaborate understanding of Gita concepts, says that the mind’s functions are threefold — to think, to feel and to will — and these functions are interlinked: the seed of thought, the more it is nourished by your feelings, the stronger will be your will-power to turn that thought into action. In the health example, this concept from the Bhagavatam will translate as — the more you feel for the idea of improving your health, the greater the chances that you will actually work on bettering it.

What the Bhagavatam has been saying for centuries — about the correlation between emotion and motivation — is now supported by modern science: neurologists say that the limbic system in our brain, which is involved with emotions, is also involved with motivation, and hence these two neuro-functions are closely linked.

When was the last time you stuck to a resolution that changed your life? If you reflect enough, you will remember that you had reached a point where you felt that not changing was intolerable. That’s how we humans are hardwired; we don’t change until we feel, “I have had enough, I must change!” And to reach this point sooner, we may have to take out time, sit back and ponder over the question,”Why should I change?”

It’s too late to avoid the reaction, but not too late to come to the right conclusion. — Radhanath Swami

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