Do you plan to be healthier and happier in 2015?Give yourself a sporting chance of keeping those important New Year’s resolutions! How recent findings from psychology can inform our efforts when it comes to goal-setting and successful behaviour change. A recent article in Time magazine outlines the steps that each of us should take when we are considering a health-related behaviour goal for 2015, such as becoming fitter, eating more healthily or giving up smoking. This behaviour change process is based on psychological research findings. First, it is advised that you start immediately as the start of a New Year provides us with a boost of optimism and a sense of renewal. Tomorrow would be an ideal day as research indicates that this is the most popular day of the week to initiate a behaviour change initiate such as starting with a new eating or exercise plan. Second, work out a detailed plan. You are much more likely to be successful if you have made a detailed plan (written down), with short, medium and long-term goals listed as well as (realistic) time frames. One shouldn’t, however, have a back-up plan! It appears that the existence of a back-up plan signals to our unconscious that failure is an option, which weakens one’s resolve! Then in order to really commit to the goal you could promise to donate a certain amount of money to a worthy cause! And tell someone else about your plan. Social support is invaluable and also it is more difficult to relapse without losing face! And finally – conserve your willpower for the really important behaviour changes! Research findings indicate that our willpower is a finite resource – only a certain amount is available at any one time, so if we resist temptation in once area it is very hard to marshal the necessary willpower for something else. It is therefore advisably not to try to change too many things in one’s life at one time! Best wishes to everyone who is going for a healthier and happier 2015!
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