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7 science-based strategies to boost your willpower and succeed with your New Year's resolutions

Setbacks are Your Friends

There will be hurdles and setbacks in the quest of trying to make yourself healthier.
Being harsh on yourself if you miss a day, or indulge in something you are avoiding will do no good. Accepting that you are not perfect and treating yourself with love and care is a much better strategy than being self-critical.

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7 science-based strategies to boost your willpower and succeed with your New Year's resolutions

7 science-based strategies to boost your willpower and succeed with your New Year's resolutions

http://theconversation.com/7-science-based-strategies-to-boost-your-willpower-and-succeed-with-your-new-years-resolutions-128762

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

New Year Resolutions

93% of us set new year resolutions, with the common themes being about losing weight, eating better, starting an exercise regime, or saving money.

Research shows that 45% of people fail within the first two months. 

Authentic Motivation

Why we set our goals matters. If it is out of fear or social expectations, then they are not going to last.

Authentic values are what helps achieve our goals, as there is a never-ending supply of willpower when we are doing what aligns with our innermost core.

Use Positive Framing

Resolving that you won't have any alcohol keeps the focus on the alcohol. Instead of focusing on what you don't want to do, focus on the positive aspect, like drinking more water.

Use gratitude and other positive emotions to steer your mind out of any pitfalls.

Change Your Environment

Changing your environment helps you keep away from temptations and the risk of falling out of your commitments.

For example: If you have candy near your desk, you are more likely to eat it.

Obstacles Will Come

There will be obstacles and sudden changes in circumstances that will hamper our self-commitments.

Have alternatives and back-up plans in such cases, to avoid indulging in something sinful or skipping your workout. Anticipate situations that may occur to help yourself formulate an alternate way.

Gradual Approach

Starting small and building on the same leads to early success. Our good habits also have a way of spreading in other areas, if sustained long enough.

Example: Avoiding sugar and gradually succeeding in it, builds willpower to moderate caffeine intake.

Positive Visualization

Visualizing your rewards and consciously feeling euphoric about them improves your chances of engaging in the actions that result in those developments.

Setbacks are Your Friends

There will be hurdles and setbacks in the quest of trying to make yourself healthier.
Being harsh on yourself if you miss a day, or indulge in something you are avoiding will do no good. Accepting that you are not perfect and treating yourself with love and care is a much better strategy than being self-critical.

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Self-Control

 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

Research on Self-Control
  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 
Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

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A Low Success Rate

New Year Resolutions typically show a low success rate, as 10% of them actually succeed.

The reason for this low rate might be our basic instincts and temptations: people give into te...

Willpower
If we strive to succeed it usually requires hard work. And hard work to achieve your desired goals requires willpower.
Willpower, while important, isn't the only thing required for success.
Emotions

Our emotions motivate us more than willpower.

If we are generous, fair and co-operative, we have an invaluable tool to motivate us to complete our goals. If we cultivate good character, compassion, and honesty, it leads to a better chance of success in our endeavors.

Successful behavior change

One potential problem when changing behaviors is that we're too often motivated by negatives such as guilt, fear, or regret.

  • Research found that long-lasting change in behavior is mo...
Change is a process

... not an event. The transtheoretical model (TTM) presupposes that at any given time, a person is in one of five stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance.

Each stage is a preparation for the next one, so you mustn't hurry through or skip stages.

Precontemplation

At this stage, you have no conscious intention of making a change. People in this stage tend to avoid reading, talking, or thinking about unhealthy behavior. However, their awareness and interest may be sparked by outside influences.

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