Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Make a New Year's Resolution

Do you know that almost half of all Americans make resolutions for the New Year?  Did you also know that only about 10% of these resolutions are successful?  So before we talk about different resolutions that would be good for your health and habits we first need to discuss how to make a resolution that you will stick to.  Luckily there are some scientific findings that can greatly help keep your resolutions.

1. Don’t make too many resolutions at once – “In an experiment conducted at Stanford, one group of students was given a two digit number to memorize while the other group was given a seven digit number. Afterwards, they were asked to walk down a hallway while holding that number in memory and presented with the option to eat a slice of cake or fruit salad at the end. It turns out that the seven digit memorizers were nearly twice as likely to choose cake over the fruit salad. It was as though memorizing the extra numbers took up ‘good decision making' space in their brain.”  The moral of the study is make one resolution that you can work on so you do not get distracted or spread yourself too thin.

2. Set a specific goal – “In health behavior change and maintenance studies, the effects of setting specific, difficult goals leads to higher performance when compared with no goals or vague, non-quantitative goals, such as "do your best.”  For example do not just make a goal of ‘eat better” or ‘lose weight.’  Instead you should make a goal that has a lot of detail such as ‘lose 10 pounds by April 15th

3. Tell Friends, Family and/or Coworkers about your goals. – “An experiment conducted on the effects of social support at the workplace concluded that weak social support often leads to elevated levels of heart rate and cortisol, which are indicators of anxiety and stress.”  Having the support during your time of change can greatly decrease the stress and help you achieve your goals.  This is the basis behind support groups of any manner (i.e. AA, Anxiety, etc).

We have only outlined a couple ways to make sure that you can make goals that work for you.  Also an idea on how to keep that goal as the year wears on.  Look out for our next post regarding further helpful hints and ideas regarding New Year’s resolutions.


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