If You Made New Year’s Resolutions, Would You Keep Them? Please don’t give up just yet!
It’s the end of the first week of January, which means you’ve probably already forgotten about that New Year’s Eve resolution. After all, 80% of them are doomed to fail.
Many popular New Year’s resolutions are generally sound concepts. It is beneficial to increase your physical activity. (Excellent!) Many people make resolutions to drink less alcohol, volunteer for a cause or begin a new activity. And, of course, many people desire to reduce weight, which is a goal with which I am well familiar.
However, the issue with creating a resolve is frequently not the resolution itself. It’s all about the procedure. Dr. Supatra Tovar, a clinical psychologist and registered dietitian, told me that “most New Year’s resolutions demand us to make significant behavioural adjustments, and most of those resolutions are set without thinking through a clear way to achieving them.” “I’ve observed that one omission again and time again as the most typical cause of our failure to keep our resolutions.”
In other words, we approach resolutions as if they were wishes. Isn’t it great if we could finally run 20 miles a week or compose a symphony?
However, acknowledging that the change you wish to make is not a notion that can help you make a resolution, and it has for me. It’s like relocating to a different city.
Moving is difficult and inconvenient. Everything you own must be packed and transported to your new house. You must update your postal address, as well as your entire self-perception.
I missed my friends when I moved from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. 12 years ago, but I also missed knowing how to go from point A to point B. What happened to the grocery store? What was the procedure for using the Metro? What made so many people here such die-hard “West Wing” fans? However, I finally became a resident of my new town. What had been novel and frightening had become routine.
And, to some extent, this is what I did to achieve a specific aim. I moved to I Write Down Everything I Eat Town and I Walk 10,000 Steps a Day Town after years of ups and downs with my body size and much anxiety and guilt about the role food played in my life. I have residences in both. I began recording each and every meal in an app developed for this purpose.
(Keeping track of what you eat can help you lose weight since it pushes you to eat more mindfully.) I’ve chronicled everything I’ve eaten for three years, eight months, one week, and four days as of the date this email was published. And for more than a year and a half, I’ve been walking 10,000 steps every day, no matter where I am or what the weather is like.
This has aided me in attaining a size that I am comfortable with.
I don’t think about writing down everything I eat or walking 10,000 steps every day any longer. I just do it, similar to how I go to a grocery store near my house instead of the one I used to frequent in St. Louis. To put it another way, it’s become automatic.
And this is crucial to your success. We are more inclined to repeat a behaviour once it has become habitual. Dr. Lynn Bufka, associate executive director for practice research and policy at The American Psychological Association, said, “A lot of what we do every day is habitual – we repeat mechanically whatever it is we generally do with minimal active decision making.” “Because we have performed various behaviours so frequently for so long, our memory of what to do — whether good or harmful -‘ sticks.'”
But how can we make the transition from old to new habits? Dr. Bufka advised that we strategize in order to achieve our objectives. “Identify the times or situations when doing this new behaviour or making this change will be more difficult, then remove the obstacles that stand in your way.”
So, instead of stating, “I’d want to drink less alcohol,” act as if you don’t live in the city where I Drink Wine Every Day. I Don’t Drink Ever is your new home. You don’t keep numerous bottles of wine or booze in your house now that you’ve moved here (a major roadblock to your aim), and you don’t go out to bars on a regular basis because that’s simply not what we do here.
Another method, according to Dr. Tovar, is to change your aim to make it more attainable for you. If you know yourself well enough to realize that you won’t be able to go completely vegan right now, don’t do it. In a nutshell, take it easy on yourself. Start going to a gym near your home or in your office building, or work out in the privacy and comfort of your own home, where no one can hear you squat jump. Also, utilize positive reinforcement: Put the money you save from not drinking drinks towards something you enjoy.
I may have written down everything I ate in a single day in I Write Down Everything I Eat, but habits can also be formed over time. Dr. Tovar informed me that tiny behavioural changes make it easier to attain goals and make missing a few days less of a problem. “It’s a lot easier to get back to a smaller baseline behaviour than it is to get back to an impossible one,” he explained.
That’s the problem. You can always begin again. Then, all of a sudden, what was once a goal has become your life. A life that is different and perhaps better than it was before.
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