With the start of 2018 fast approaching, the idea of New Years' Resolutions are front and centre of many discussions..
As for how to go about setting them, though? Well, Dr Rachel Abramson is an organisational, health and counselling psychologist who says resolutions are most certainly valid, but there's a way to go about it.
"Most people will say things like 'I should lose weight' or 'I want to lose weight' or 'i really should quit smoking' or 'wouldn't it be nice to...', so it's expressed in a dreamy, aspiring kind of way rather than a concrete, actionable way"
"If we express it in dreamy terms, we are less likely to be able to succeed with them"
"Anecdotally, probably between 40 and 60% of the population will set a new years resolution. Of them, less than 10% will succeed, and that comes down to setting these dreamy ideals"
Dr Abramson says all goals are more constructive when they're expressed in positive terms and focus on what you do want, rather than what you want to avoid.
"So if you use the example of losing weight, well you might express it as wanting to reveal your inner figure or physique, and you might represent that by saying 'I want to have a waist line of 80cm for women, or 94cm for men', so that's really concrete and very actionable. You'll know if you're going to succeed because it's a very concrete, objective way of measuring the success"
Dr Abramson recommends a five step system to making resolutions you can succeed with.
- DITCH THE DREAMY STUFF - replace the likes of 'I want to lose weight', with concrete, moderately challenging and actionable goal.
- SET A DEADLINE - the date you wish to achieve your goal by needs to be reasonable. It should allow the goal to be moderately challenging, but not overwhelming.
- IDENTIFY MARKERS ALONG THE WAY TO YOUR GOALPOST - make sure you consider setbacks that may come up along the way to. If you've tried to reach this goal in the past, have a think about what helped you or derailed you in the past. For someone wanting to lose weight, for example, Dr Abramson says things like noticing your clothes getting looser may be a marker you look for on your journey.
- FIND THINGS THAT HELP AND HINDER - identify helpful and healthful activities to start doing, and unhelpful and unhealthy activities to stop doing. You might decide to stop buying cakes or chocolates or biscuits if they're your downfall so you can't just grab them when you feel like them.
- HOOK HELPFUL AND HEALTHFUL ACTIVITIES TO EXISTING ROUTINES - you know when you drive to work, you pick a particular routine and you take that route each time?? Dr Abramson says she's the kind of person who not only takes the same route, but also takes the same lane and even changes lanes at the same time each day.... she says hooking a helpful activity to a routine or habit like that, you're putting it in the automatic pilot mode so it becomes the norm.