Resolutions that REALLY work!
Many people see the New Year as a chance to change their life - and many make grand, sweeping resolutions like running every morning, going vegan, or quitting carbs for the year. Then, in a month or so (less for me!) the spiral of returning to our previous ways begins. By May, we've forgotten the resolution all together, or remember it with a sense of shame.
Lets change this cycle!
Science has shown that "small tests of change", while definitely less romantic than huge changes, incur far greater success than the 8% of New Years resolution keepers. What is a "small test of change", and how does it work?
Small tests of change look at one manageable goal - such as: "I'm not going to drink soda today", and then celebrate the success. This time goal being met stimulates a sense of accomplishment, which increases your propensity to meet that goal again. Training your brain to celebrate success encourages you to keep at it!
Alternatively, when (not if!) you fall off of the wagon, psychologists encourage you to view that as part of the process, not the end of an experiment. Set a similar goal which may be easier to reach, and celebrate that, returning to your previous goal after you've succeeded.
So - what are seven steps to success for your New Year?
1. Think about the change before you commit.
Is this resolution something you believe in? Is it healthy? Does it make you excited to make this change? If not - you may find success more difficult. Make a resolution that you believe in, that inspires you, or that makes you excited. You will find greater success in doing something you can be proud of.
2. Make a plan.
Say you're thinking about giving up red meat as your resolution for 2018. Using a small test of change approach, you might decide to only indulge i a burger once a week, or cut your meat portion sizes in half and add more vegetables to your plate instead.
3. Set a reasonable time limit to measure success.
Instead of focusing on the year as a whole, focus on a smaller time frame which you can measure, like one or two weeks, or the month of January. Part of success is celebrating markers of achievement. If you can achieve something in a week, two weeks, or a month, you are more likely to succeed for the long haul.
4. Write it down.
Give yourself incentive, even if it's a sticky note on your computer monitor, about why you're making this change. If you're making healthy changes to live longer for your family, to fit into a favorite outfit, or just to make your cholesterol numbers go down - post these things where you will see them every day.
5. Shame is not success.
Our culture loves success, and is often brutal to failure. Make a mental not to tell yourself that you may not meet your goal at least once during your test of change, and celebrate yourself for completing it when you do. None of us are robots, and habits take time to form.
6. Avoid "all or nothing" goal setting.
We have a tendency to throw ourselves into resolutions with an "all or nothing" mentality, and when we fail the first time, we stop. Instead - set a range to meet goals. Instead of "I will drink no alcohol at all this week", try "I will limit my alcohol to 2-4 servings this week". This gives you the opportunity to make decisions about your resolutions as your life happens.
7. CELEBRATE SUCCESS!
When you make a positive choice to stick to your resolution, such as drinking water instead of soda, give yourself credit!!! Making healthy choices is difficult, making habits is harder, and sticking to them long term is worthy of celebration!