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The New Year’s health resolution that doesn’t require will power.

The New Year’s health resolution that doesn’t require will power. 960 640 Geoff

On January 1st 2017, millions of Australians will wake and declare that they have made a New Year’s resolution. A large proportion of these resolutions will relate to improving their health – lose weight, get fitter, improve diet or reduce stress.

By the end of the first week in January, statistics reveal that 75% of these resolution makers will be on track to achieve their stated goals. However, the picture changes very quickly from this point on. Within a few months, only 8% of people who make a health related New Year’s resolution will succeed.

Which means of course that 92% will fail and there is a high probability that this won’t be the first time.  In fact, resolving to change, followed by trying and failing, followed by a new set of resolutions that starts the cycle over again is so epidemic that it has been defined it as a psychological condition known as False Hope Syndrome. So, if you can relate to this – you are not alone!

The problem is that resolutions rely on willpower. Willpower is a finite resource and it will run out. A resolution is often made on the basis of “should” or “must”. It is linked to some reward, usually externally driven like looking better or something that will become relevant in the future like warding off chronic disease.

So once the initial optimism fades and the reality of the effort required sinks in – willpower is no longer enough to maintain momentum. Where is the reward for our effort?

What we need to maintain any behaviour change is a compelling enough reason and some instant rewards so that the changes we make fuel more changes. So that we don’t need willpower.

A resolution to lose weight, get fitter, eat better or reduce stress makes sense. There are many different ways to achieve each of those. But attention to them will be in competition to the other thousand things that occupy our mind and drain our resources every day. Our lives as parents, partners and professionals dominate our physical and mental energy.

Why? Because these things are the most important things to us every single day.

What if the reason to make some changes in your life was not to lose weight, get fitter, eat better or reduce stress? What if the reason was to increase our level of self-care? And by doing so become a more active parent, a more patient partner a more productive professional?

What if feeling better and having more physical and mental energy made all the roles in our life just that much easier? What if we made a few simple changes that improved the quality of your life RIGHT NOW in ways that you can easily notice and benefit from?

Then we don’t need willpower.

What we did gave us instant reward. So we will do more of it. And once we do more of it we feel even better. So we will do even more of it. This is not a cycle of failure – it is a cycle of success and it is self-maintaining forever.

And the beautiful irony is that when you do this – you will lose weight, get fitter, eat better and reduce stress anyway.

Don’t make a resolution. Make a change that is important to the most important things in your life. We have helped many hundreds of people just like you to do this.

(Reference: No Sweat – How the simple science of motivation can bring you a lifetime of fitness, Michelle Segar. PhD)

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