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Why you dont need to bother with New Years resolutions.

Friday, January 05, 2018

While we’re in holiday mode its a great time to take stock of our lives and envisage those areas that we’d like to improve and the goals that we’d like to achieve for the upcoming year. This is a really important step in making those wishes become reality. However sometimes we’re overly ambitious with our plans and don’t follow the right steps to make them a reality. Its been estimated that less than 10% of new years resolutions result in permanent changes. Why do they fail? You need to put some science behind changing behaviour.

According to behavioural psychologist Susan Weinschenk PhD from Brainwise, there are two main lines of brain and behaviour science that influence New Year’s resolutions: The science of habits and the science of self-stories. These are her suggestions on how to successfully create change in your life.

The Science of Habits and How to Change Them:

We all have hundreds of habits that we perform each day as part of our daily living ritual. Most of them we don’t even think about, and we probably cant remember when they started. For example, your morning get up ritual, how you dress yourself each morning, your breakfast routine etc. You don’t need to think about them, its just what you do. Our brains are busy thinking about the day ahead.

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not hard to change habits IF you do so based on science.

To change a new habit you essentially have to create a new one, so whether you are changing an existing habit or creating a new one, the “scientific” method for doing so is the same.

There are 3 steps to follow to create a new habit:

1. You MUST pick a small action. “Get more exercise” is not small. “Eat healthier” is not small. This is a big reason why New Year’s resolutions don’t work. If it’s a habit and you want a new one it MUST be something really small. For example, instead of “Get more exercise” choose “Walk 1/3 more than I usually do” or “Take the stairs each morning to get to my office, not the elevator”, or “Have a smoothie every morning with kale in it”. These are relatively small actions.

2. You MUST attach the new action to a previous habit. Figure out a habit you already have that is well established, for example, if you already go for a brisk walk 3 times a week, then adding on 10 more minutes to the existing walk connects the new habit to an existing one. The existing habit “Go for walk” now becomes the “cue” for the new habit: “Walk 10 more minutes.” Your new “stimulus-response” is Go For Walk (Stimulus) followed by “Add 10 minutes.” Your existing habit of “walk through door at office” can now become the “cue” or stimulus for the new habit of “walk up a flight of stairs.” Your existing habit of “Walk into the kitchen in the morning” can now be the stimulus for the new habit of “Make a kale smoothie.”

3. You MUST make the new action EASY to do for at least the first week. Because you are trying to establish a conditioned response, you need to practice the new habit from the existing stimulus from 3 to 7 times before it will “stick” on its own. To help you through this 3 to 7 times phase make it as EASY as possible. Write a note and stick it in your walking shoe that says “Total time today for walk is 30 minutes”. Write a note and put it where you put your keys that says: “Today use the stairs.” Put the kale in the blender and have all your smoothie ingredients ready to go in one spot in the fridge.

The Science of Self-stories:

Everyone has stories about themselves that drive their behaviour. You have an idea of who you are and what’s important to you. Essentially you have a “story” operating about yourself at all times. These self-stories have a powerful influence on our decisions and actions.

Whether you realize it or not, you make decisions based on staying true to your self-stories. Most of this decision making based on self-stories happens unconsciously. You strive to be consistent.

You want to make decisions that match your idea of who you are. When you make a decision or action a way that fits your self-story, the decision or action will feel right. When you make a decision or act in a way that doesn’t fit your self-story you feel uncomfortable.

You want to make decisions that match your idea of who you are. When you make a decision or action a way that fits your self-story, the decision or action will feel right. When you make a decision or act in a way that doesn’t fit your self-story you feel uncomfortable.

If you want to change your behaviour and make the change stick, then you need to first change the underlying self-story that is operating. Do you want to be more optimistic? Then you’d better have an operating self-story that says you are an optimistic person. Want to be fitter? Then you’ll need a self-story where you enjoy regular exercise.

Story Editing:

1. Write out your existing story. Pay special attention to anything about the story that goes AGAINST the new resolution you want to adopt. So if your goal is to learn how to unplug and be less stressed, then write out a story that is realistic, that shows that it’s hard for you to switch off, and that you tend to get overly involved in dramas at home or at work.

2. Now re-write the story — create a new self-story. Tell the story of the new way of being. Tell the story of the person who appreciates life, and takes time to take care of him/her-self.

The technique of story-editing is so simple that it doesn’t seem possible that it can result in such deep and profound change. But the research shows that one re-written self-story can make all the difference.

Both these techniques of habit change and story editing work. You can do either one or both. Give it a try. What have you got to lose? This year use science to create and stick to your goals.

If you’re wanting to exercise more but don’t enjoy the gym experience, boutique fitness classes may be the solution for you. At Miss Fit we are Sydney’s leading provider of small group fitness classes specialising in pole fitness, pole dancing, aerial yoga, aerial fitness, aerial hoop, flexibility and contortion, handstands and conditioning classes. We also offer mums and bubs classes and kids aerial yoga classes. With over 120 classes running each week there’s plenty to choose from. Find out more. The mood of our classes is supportive, non-competitive and very friendly. You will join a community where you will have the opportunity to achieve your fitness goals and so much more. Most importantly you will feel really good about you!

If you’re wanting more help in creating healthy eating habits, we offer Miss Fit MakeOvers – where our expert dieticians work with you to create long term habit change and weight management for a happier and healthier you. Priced from only $190-.

Our next term kicks off from January 15 2018 – find a class that suits you and book in through the Timetable Page on the Miss Fit website.