Cynical about resolutions? Don’t be. Science suggests that the simple act of writing down an intention can help you realize your goal.
Behavioral researchers also say that being positively motivated is more effective than attempting to change habits based on feelings of fear, guilt or regret. In other words, your resolution should represent a goal you genuinely want to move towards. Once you’ve taken the time to contemplate your intention for the new year, you’ll also want to create a detailed plan with realistic steps for achieving your goal. For example, If you’d like to save money you can start by identifying ways to reduce spending, and then create a specific task for yourself, like bringing lunch to work on Tuesday and Thursday. With one simple recurring task, the huge, nebulous goal of saving money is now a manageable plan that will add up over time.
And don’t underestimate the power of persistence, positive thinking and treating yourself with a little compassion. Changing established habits and creating new ones takes time, some suggest about six months. Research also shows that the process isn’t always smooth. Slip ups are common, though that shouldn’t deter you! Succumbing to weak afternoon willpower and cheating on your diet with the plate of cookies in the break room isn’t a sign of failure. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn and make adjustments, like bringing a healthy afternoon snack to work or skipping the break room in favor of a walk.