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Wrong Resolutions: 5 Tips for Finally Changing Your Habits
Who among usِ hasn’tِ approached New Year’s – atِ least onceِ – pledging toِ lose weight.
‘Tis theِ season forِ resolutions, whetherِ it’sِ to drop pounds, stop smoking, work lessِ (or more), orِ clear theِ clutter fromِ our homes.
It’s definitelyِ betterِ to create whatِ I call process goals, ratherِ than outcome goals, saidِ Art Markman, a professor ofِ psychology andِ marketing atِ University ofِ Texas atِ Austin andِ author ofِ the upcoming book, Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys toِ Solve Problems, Innovate andِ Get Things Done (Penguin Group, 2012.
1. Know thyself
If you’reِ aware youِ eat tooِ muchِ afterِ stressful conversations, orِ crave cigarettes atِ certain points ofِ the day, thenِ you’ve gotِ a head start atِ turning thoseِ hankerings around.
It’s important toِ understand yourِ triggers forِ the habit, Markman said.
Don’t tryِ toِ change thingsِ yet, justِ understand whatِ you’re doing, heِ advised, becauseِ you’re making mindless thingsِ mindful.
2. Start small
Just asِ Rome wasn’tِ built inِ a day, years ofِ poor lifestyle choices can’tِ beِ torn asunder allِ at once.
Don’t promise yourselfِ you’llِ exercise fiveِ days a week whenِ twiceِ isِ much moreِ realistic, Newby-Clark said, andِ don’t pledge toِ wake upِ anِ hour earlier eachِ morning whenِ 15 minutes seemsِ eminently moreِ doable.
Simply telling yourself, ‘When I wake upِ inِ the morning, I willِ grab myِ gym bag,’ orِ ‘When I seeِ the fridge, I willِ open itِ to prepare a healthy meal’ makesِ a world ofِ difference, andِ makes itِ much moreِ likelyِ you willِ doِ the behavior, Newby-Clark said.
3. Don’t replace something with nothing
The hardest goals toِ fulfill areِ negative, suchِ asِ eating lessِ or quitting smoking orِ drinking, Markman said.
That’s becauseِ these efforts center onِ replacing somethingِ – food, tobacco orِ alcohol, forِ exampleِ – withِ nothing.
You can’tِ stop yourِ memory fromِ working, soِ insteadِ you needِ to reprogram itِ byِ replacing somethingِ with somethingِ else.
4. Plan to fail
Just asِ it’s crucial toِ visualize success, it’sِ alsoِ necessary toِ plan toِ fail, Markman said.
It’s notِ that youِ can’tِ expect toِ succeed withِ steady effort, butِ you willِ inevitably stumble atِ some point inِ the process – andِ you mustِ prepare soِ that won’tِ spell theِ endِ of yourِ efforts.
What canِ go wrong.
5. Be kind to yourself
When slip-ups doِ occur, tryِ toِ keepِ the bigger picture inِ mind.
Too manyِ people cheat onِ their diets, forِ example, andِ decide thatِ a single mistake hasِ doomed theِ entire plan – a phenomenon Markman saidِ isِ known asِ the what-the-hell effect (as in, What theِ hell, nowِ that I’ve eaten thatِ cupcake I mayِ asِ well eat twoِ more.) We’ve allِ failed atِ these things, soِ we knowِ it’sِ not easy, heِ said.
butِ rather thanِ considerِ that toِ beِ a failure overall, weِ needِ to realize it’sِ just oneِ day whereِ thingsِ didn’tِ go theِ way weِ wanted themِ to.