• Resolution Check

    It’s over halfway through February. How are your resolutions doing? I was recently reminded that gyms consider the second week in February as the “fitness cliff” where people tend to begin returning to old habits and the desire for self-improvement that occurs each New Year finally wanes.

    I find it interesting that we tend to set a series of goals to begin on New Year’s Day. This article makes a case for the need for “psychological neatness” in which people pick dates for goals based upon societally approved milestones such as New Years, birthdays, etc. The author argues that we are “often influenced by societal norms more than personal readiness.” The article goes on to argue that our resolutions begin to fail because we are not internally motivated and that our motivation for resolutions comes from the external motivator of resolutions as a societal norm.

    We all tend to favor this psychological neatness. Birthdays tend to be times of self-reflection and goal setting. Anniversaries are times in which we take stock of relationships and set goals for how to improve them. However, we can set goals at any time we desire! There’s no reason to wait for a birthday or New Year’s Eve to come around. The first step is to examine yourself and to determine what changes you would like to make. Create a list and see what is the absolute easiest thing on the list to change. For example, why not start by cutting out sodas and drinking water instead of joining a gym if you’re not truly ready to take that step. Start with small achievable goals and build from there.

    The important thing is to focus on internal motivation and healthy habit formation. Get curious and consider the behavioral change that you’re about to embark upon as an experiment. You will have internal motivation covered if you can become honestly curious about making a change. Give it two weeks of effort and reflect upon the changes that have occurred in your life. It takes two weeks to establish a new habit. After a couple of weeks, your new behavior will just be the way that you’re living your life.

    Attack one change at a time. Any more than one and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Lifestyle change is a marathon, not a sprint. Start with small, time limited, achievable goals and work through that list one at a time. Don’t start with the next goal until you’ve thoroughly integrated the first goal into your life. Be patient! The slow and steady approach is a time-tested method for absolutely transforming your life. Want to have those New Year’s resolutions stick? Take them one at a time. And there’s no need to wait for next year. Pick one and get started today!

    Dr. Hill