The Myth of New Year Resolutions

Nearly half of Americans make New Year Resolutions each year, but within six months, compliance will have dropped to about half as well*. More importantly, these often have to with a) weight loss (or fat loss), b)exercise or c) quitting smoking.

Each have major near and long term impact on our health. So here are some 2011 strategies to help you stick with the programme:

1) Understand the foundation for change:
This means that you must have had quite enough of something eg thickening waistline that you are fed up and now want change and lasting change. So a good resolution can’t come from a piss-up in a bar or on impulse. It’s something you know you can do and have been thinking about for a while

2) Change is difficult:
And don’t let any motivational speaker tell you otherwise. The good news is that your efforts will usually have exponential rates of improvement before tailing off, and then requiring you to put in more effort on a sustained basis eg weight loss. Remember, if it took you a year to put on that flab, it will take almost as long to get it off.  Be patient. So here are some little Santa helpers:

  • a) Identify habits linked to your eg smoking, junk food eating. Recognise when you are making bad choices and have onstandby some good choices. For example, bring fruit and lowfat cereal bars to work when you have the hunger pangs. Choose water-rich food always at meal times eg veggies, fruit. Choose not to let that doughnut or fried treat pass your lips. It takes about 3 months to break a bad habit and to ingrain a new one
  • b) buddy-up with someone with a similar challenge. Link up on Facebook, cheer each other on and stick to some targets. Peer encouragement is powerful
  • c) Last but not least, set some realistic targets that wont harm your health or wallet

3) Reward yourself:
Plan in advance a specific reward when you hit your goal, and let your loved ones know about it

*Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002)

While we often  visit the topic of goal-setting (see the many articles since 2001 from Life Without Limits} in this leadership newsletter. You can also read my thoughts on negotiating skills for leaders at The Asian Negotiator of goal-setting and goal-getting.

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