Will your New Year’s Resolution work?

Probably not! According to studies tracking behavior change after making New Year’s Resolutions, 80% of people fail to make any lasting change. Why continue making resolutions when the success rate is so low?

Why do New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

Experts often point to the lack of commitment or willpower, support or accountability, or of a specific goal and reward as reasons New Year’s resolutions fail – and I agree with all of that.  

However, I argue that a resolution describes the desired result – not a path to the outcome. For more than two decades, I’ve been convincing people to change behavior to protect their health and quality of life and know that information and good intention rarely change our behavior.

However, I argue that New Year’s Resolutions describe the desired result – not a path to the outcome. For more than two decades, I’ve been convincing people to change behavior to protect their health and quality of life and know that information and good intention rarely change our behavior.

Why is Choice the Key to Change?

Like any new experience, behavior change works better if we follow a path or script. We make choices each day, each hour, and minute to support our change or not. Creating a script to make those choices makes it more likely you’ll choose to keep your goal.

How does a script work to support change?

There are three parts to a successful script:

First – create an I will… Because statement.

I describe the I will…BECAUSE statement in my book Stress-Proof Your Life and use it with people in my programs and workshops to write down a specific and clear goal connected to motivation to complete the goal. Here is one I’m currently making:

I recently invested in an Apple Watch and use the Fitness Rings to track my activity in three ways:

  • Exercise which tracks how much time I work out
  • Move which tracks how many active calories I burn
  • Stand which tracks how many hours I stand up at least once (this is especially helpful as I spend much of my day here at my computer!)

I’ve set my Excercise ring goal to 60 minutes of brisk walking or working out every day. It is relatively easy to close the Move and Stand rings if I hit this goal. BUT – it is often hard for me to get motivated to work out. Once I get going, I can stick it out. I also know exercise is one of my most efficient ways to disengage from my sources of stress and process cortisol out of my system. As a heart attack survivor, I need to keep my stress low and do everything to keep my heart healthy. You, of course, don’t need and Apple Watch to set a goal – this is just an example!

My statement is:

I will close my exercise ring every day BECAUSE I want the capacity to enjoy being active and present with my family.

Next – create a script to support your desired behavior.

Here is the script (yes, I’m talking to myself) for choosing to start working out or do something else:

Question 1: Is this other activity time-sensitive or more critical to our family or my business than exercising right now?

If yes… (If no, skip to question 3)

Question 2: If I don’t exercise now, do I have a specific time to exercise later?

If yes…

Question 3: How will I reward my choice to exercise today?

That’s it. Three simple questions – the 3rd of which is perhaps the most impactful and leads us to part 3:

Third – Reward your desired behavior

Experts agree habitual behavior is motivated by reward. Simple daily reward can make the difference between reaching your desired result or failing to hold on to a well-intentioned resolution.   

How will you reward your choice today?

For me, rewards for closing my rings could be watching a guilty pleasure television program, a relaxing face mask, calling a friend on the phone, or even a luscious piece of chocolate. Giving myself something that makes me smile and releases some dopamine not only makes it more likely I’ll perform the desired behavior – it also makes me feel good and reduces stress.

What will make it worth getting started today?

So – as we head into 2022 – 

  • What behavior do you want to do each day? 
  • What motivates that behavior?
  • What questions will you use to choose to do that behavior each day?
  • How will reward your choice to perform that behavior every day?

One more thing….

There will be days I won’t close my rings. It happens. It may be hard to work out if I’m working with a client all day, feeling under the weather, or traveling.

One step off the path doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

Start the next day again. Ask yourself the questions and reward your behavior.

Remember:

Life is not about perfection. It’s about moving in the right direction.

I hope these tips help you along your path. Please share your I will… Because statements or questions below.

I wish you low stress and great success in 2022 and every day!

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