I take the process of making New Years' Resolutions very seriously. Every year I make the resolutions just before December 25--- and spend the final week of the year thinking about what I will do to make them a part of my routine seamlessly. I like the idea of starting anew with a clean slate in areas that I have failed at during the year.
And then, beginning on January 1--- I'm off and running!
Last year was the first year that I did not fall "off the wagon" two weeks into the year. I attribute that to the New Year's Shuffle!
An article in the WSJ from a few years ago made me realize that perhaps my lack of resolve was not entirely my fault. I’d just been going about it all wrong. According to Sue Shellenbarger, it’s not so much about willpower and discipline as it is about retraining the brain to form new habits. In other words, saying that I’m going to change my behavior just wasn't enough.
New Years' Resolutions require a more detailed plan of action that looks something like the diagram of the New Year's Shuffle shown in the article (diagram on right). It's a process. So for each resolution I make I do the following:
- Decide on my goal and make a plan.
- Practice beforehand.
- Think about what I do that makes me slip up.
- Plan for rewards when I practice my resolution.
- Practice focusing on my improved behavior.
- Reduce other stresses that get in the way.
- Plan punishments that will help to get started.
- Have a plan to get myself back on track if I slip.
I think this makes good sense, and it worked for me last year so I am going start practicing my 2012 resolutions...tomorrow.
What about you? Have you ever been able to stick to a New Years resolution? If so, how?
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