Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Forget New Years Resolutions. Try out a March Resolution. DMG's Health and Wellness Segment, March 2nd
Another great post by health and wellness specialist-DMG. Enjoy.
Well, it’s March now, and if you look in the mirror you might notice that your New Year’s resolutions have faded into a distant memory. Sure, the first few weeks were great- you were exercising regularly, drinking less (perhaps still getting over New Years Eve), and you may have even lost a few pounds; but, if you are like the vast majority of resolution-makers, by this time you’re goals have gone to the wayside and you have resorted back to old habits.
In a Quirkology.com experiment, over 3000 people were tracked with regards to their achievement of a range of resolutions, including losing weight, visiting the gym, quitting smoking, and drinking less. At the start of the study, 52% of participants were confident of success. One year later, only 12% actually achieved their goal. I’m going out on a limb here, but I would venture a guess that of those 12% that “achieved” their goal that year, even fewer are still on track today.
Maybe people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions so frequently because they have no self control. Perhaps peoples’ abilities to focus on a goal and achieve it are predetermined or fixed- much like one’s height or eye color. Or perhaps they just had the wrong resolution.
In keeping with Diego’s “You failed because you had the wrong dream” philosophy (Prison scene in “Blow”- a classic. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, rent it.), I believe that people fall short of achieving their New Year’s resolutions year after year because they are simply making the wrong resolution. They fail because they have the wrong dream.
Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as our belief in our ability to succeed in specific situations. Moreover, the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals. Self efficacy can be measured as a continuum, with two extremes: high and low. Individuals who believe that they have a limited amount of self-control and that they cannot change are said to have low self-efficacy. These individuals might say things like, “I can’t stop ______(eating chocolate, smoking, drinking- pick your poison), I inherited that gene.” These people have little belief in their ability to carry out their goals, and therefore are perennial resolution-breakers. On the other end of the continuum, you have those with high self-efficacy. These people believe that self control is malleable, unlimited, and dynamic. They might say something like, “I can stop___, all I have to do is put my mind to it.” Resolve to be the latter.
Important distinction- self efficacy is not the same as self esteem. “Self esteem relates to a person’s sense of self-worth, whereas self efficacy relates to a person’s perception of their ability to reach a goal.”-psychology.wikia.com. In order to achieve a goal, you must create a plan and truly believe in your ability to achieve that goal. Tips to get back on track with your resolutions:
1. Work hard to create the “right” resolutions. Have the right dream. If you have made the same resolution a few times and have failed each year, change your resolution.
2. If you have broad resolutions- i.e. getting in shape- create a detailed plan in order to achieve it. Example: Instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight to look better”, plan substitute items on your grocery list (1% milk, fresh instead of frozen, natural instead of processed), create a workout schedule (yoga class Tuesday & Thursday, weights on Wednesday, recreational soccer league on Saturday), and most importantly- view relapses as laughable deviations from the plan instead of failure, and get back on track tomorrow.
3. Make one resolution.
4. Be ambitious, but realistic. Setting a goal that is just out of reach, but not out of sight will help you to achieve it.
5. Resolve to educate yourself. Instead of resolving to lose 15 pounds, resolve to learn how to eat healthier and exercise to effectively reach your goals. Read “The All-Pro Diet” by Tony Gonzalez for a great healthy-eating read. You don’t have to take it as gospel, but Tony Gonzalez is a 10 time pro-bowl selection and a freak of an athlete. Maybe eating like him isn’t such a bad idea.
While you’re at it, educate yourself on the psychology of motivation and figure out what works for you.
Personally, I do not like New Year’s resolutions. Why not make a March resolution? Why not a today resolution? If you lack the self control to achieve your resolution, your resolution should be to increase your self control. Have a higher self efficacy- the more you believe in your own capabilities, the more likely you will succeed. Believe that self control is malleable, and not fixed; without commitment to sculpting your mental ability to achieve greatness, physical results will be empty. Make a plan and stick to it- if you waiver, get back on track as soon as possible. Read.