Ahh, as the New Year soon approaches, it’s now the right time to look back and analyze yourself a bit. For a lot of people, the onset of New Year is the ideal time to make promises with themselves and make resolutions which they could try to fulfill. Sadly, most Americans who make resolutions never actually keep them, and here’s why:
- They have an all or nothing mentality.
- They make too many resolutions.
- Their resolutions are not specific.
- They don’t track how they are doing.
- They don’t make adjustments.
- They only think big.
Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, who led an analysis, said he and his team had asked 700 people about their strategies for achieving new year resolutions. Their goals ranged from losing weight or giving up smoking to gaining a qualification or starting a better relationship
People who kept their resolutions tended to have broken their goal into smaller steps and rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these. They also told their friends about their goals, focused on the benefits of success and kept a diary of their progress.
But consider this: if hard-core addicts can break bad habits — some by moderating, not just quitting — there’s still hope for you. Whether your goal for 2013 is to get fit or tame your drinking, experts say there’s a lot you can learn from people who have successfully moderated their habits to help keep you off the resolution merry-go-round.
Don’t Kid Yourself You need to know the difference between enjoying yourself and self-medicating. It’s not that self-medicating is necessarily bad — but you should give yourself parameters. If you are adhering to them, O.K. If not, you need to check yourself.”
Quit Cold Turkey — Temporarily “Theoretically, there are very good reasons to take a break from a behavior, totally,” says Reid Hester, director of research at Behavior Therapy Associates, explaining that an initial period of complete abstinence can make it easier for people to moderate behavior by eliminating the habitual, automatic aspect of the unwanted activity.
Do What the Dalai Lama Would Do Alan Marlatt, director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, studies “mindfulness-based relapse prevention,” which uses meditation and other ideas from Buddhist teachings to help people break bad habit.
Don’t Try to Scare Yourself Straight Research shows that in the long term, the pleasure of victory is a better incentive than the agony of defeat. Punishment is a poor motivator. It sets people up for failure. If all you do is punish yourself for failure, you won’t stay motivated to change for very long.
Get Better Friends-Social support is critical to changing all kinds of behavior. Good friends can not only help you through slip-ups but also help keep your New Year’s resolutions from taking over your life
When goal-planning is complete, your final task is simple: just do it.