‘Tis the season! A season of celebrating… and stressing, giving…and indulging, family….and more family. But whether we love the holidays or just endure them, many of us see the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start.
There’s some evidence to back up using the New Year as a kick-starter for behavior change – studies indicate people are about ten times more likely to follow through with a resolution made at New Year’s than those made at other times of year. Unfortunately, the science also suggests that old habits die hard, and many of us only keep up our new behaviours for a few months.
Why is this and what can we learn from the science of resolutions? Our whiteboard explores.
So that’s a bit about the science of resolutions. Now what?
Below is my back-to-basics, old-school, no-magic-pill-included starter kit. I’ve included big-picture topics – things like eating, sleeping, moving, thinking and social capital – since efforts in any one of these will have ripple effects throughout the others. It’s like a behavior cascade.
And the changes don’t have to be grand in scale. As Kelly McGonigal says, “People often get lost thinking they have to change everything all at once. But small changes can pave the way for bigger changes.”
To start off the kit, below is my rough-and-ready infographic:
Download the Infographic
Instead of thinking of your resolution in terms of success and failure, maybe treat this behavior change thing like an experiment . . . a better life experiment?
The following package of whiteboards, infographics, podcasts and curations is meant to help get the ‘better life ball’ rolling. You’ll notice some key themes and maybe some new terms throughout: Lots of tweaking and nudging, choice-architecture, allowing (even embracing?) imperfection. Hopefully there will be a little of what we call, cognitive dissonance and some “Whaaaaaat?” moments to help you change it up in 2016.
In no particular order:
Stress Less & Think Better –
Eat Better –
Move More & Make Your Day Harder –
and check out our Make Your Day Harder site for more!
Drink Less –
Stop Smoking –
Sleep Better –
Check out our EHL Sleeping section with great stuff on the science of sleep, sleep disorders, sleep hygiene and more.
And if you’re not in the resolution mood but you are feeling kind of down and out, don’t forget there are things you can do today…even right now… that might help you get through the post holiday slump.
Here’s my two minutes on dealing with a crap week:
And finally, four of my favourite pieces of advice for 2016 and beyond…
- Instead of looking at your life, look at your week.
- Instead of committing to huge change, commit to small changes of your weekly habits.
- Instead of focusing on motivation, focus on facilitation. What I mean by that is that willpower comes and goes, whereas embedding “nudges” into your week that work for you (know thyself) will be more sustainable. Maybe it’s booking weekly activity into your calendar, auto-ordering soda water (versus sugary pop or juice) when you are out, cutting up fruit and placing it at the front of the fridge, and so on. Review the “choice architecture” of your week and nudge yourself in the right way.
- Think consistency not perfection. Having a piece of chocolate and the occasional “fail” is good. We call this the 80/20 rule. If you are making the choice you want 80% of the time that is great. Throw in a little self love and emphasize resilience. Remember this is a Better Life Experiment!