It's nearly that time of year again, New Years resolution time. Many people make resolutions, but very few seem to effect lasting or significant change. Why is that? I recently read an interesting article about a study conducted by a group of Harvard students looking at Pokemon Go and how is was touted to 'change' the way people move and subsequently improve their health. After taking a large group of Pokemon players and looking at data from their mobile phones (detailing the number of steps in a day) the researchers found a large increase in the number of steps initially once subjects began playing the game, but this increase all but disappeared after only 6 weeks.
This is a great example of what happens with most resolutions. The tendency for most is to be hard out of the gates and then quickly fade back to old habits. How can we make real and lasting change?
- Don't Fear Failure. The first step I believe is to understand that real change is extremely difficult and that in all likelihood multiple attempts will be necessary in order to succeed. So don't be afraid to try and fail (even multiple times).
- Resolutions have to be attainable. If you set out to achieve things that are very unlikely to be possible it is easy to get frustrated and do nothing as a result. Make your resolutions attainable.
- Baby Steps. If are set on having a really difficult resolution, break it down into smaller more easily reachable steps. That way you feel successful as you attain each smaller step towards the larger goal.
- Set yourself up for success. Understand that changing your behavior may involve more that just say 'drinking less'. If your entire social circle frequently drinks alcohol in order for you to successfully drink less you may have to consider spending more time in situations where alcohol isn't involved.
- Have a partner. Change is easier when you can share it with someone else. It helps with accountability and can also add an element of fun.
Ultimately I think resolutions can be a good thing, but like anything else it can really get discouraging if you fail and aren't expecting to. Maybe knowing that change is hard and thinking about ways to make small incremental changes will be just what you need to actually make a resolution stick and experience real change for the better. Good Luck!