I was never a fan of New Year’s Eve resolutions.
Short, cold winter days are a tough time for me to get super-motivated. But in late September, when the weather starts to get cool at night, the sugar maple leaves start to turn crimson, and Macoun apples are at the farm stands, I feel inspired to clean up, clear out and make positive changes.
Maybe this is because it’s the time of year when the new school year starts. In New England, maybe it’s a helpful natural instinct that helps us rake up the leaves and get out the fall clothes. So, when we want to make a change, like losing summer pounds or quitting smoking – what strategies can help us make the change happen and last?
I found a great blog on “engineering” successful change, by roadblocking the easy excuses and reducing the pain of the hard work you are trying to do. I’ll share some of it here, but it’s worth reading the whole of it. I am already using some of these strategies. In my own life, I’m in the process of losing 10 pounds that sneaked up on me this year. I’m also trying to exercise more.
(See! I just used one of the Zen strategies: I made my “goal” public, so I’ll have to let you know if I succeeded!)
Here is my favorite snippit From the blog ZenHabits:
“Engineer the habit change …Think of it from an engineer’s point of view: When negative feedback outweighs positive feedback, habit change fails. To make the habit change successful, positive feedback has to outweigh negative feedback. The solution: increase positive feedback and/or decrease negative feedback until the ratio favors the habit change. Think of it this way: if you want to take a certain path in the snow, put obstacles along all other paths so that it’s difficult to go anywhere but the path you want to take … and have the path you want to take shoveled, so that it’s easy to take that path. You can engineer your habit change so that it’s harder to quit than to do the habit. You have four options in your custom engineering solution. In each, I’ll give some ideas, but you’ll have to come up with ideas of your own to fit whatever habit you’re trying to change… 3. Increase negative feedback for not doing the habit. You want to make it hard not to do the habit. As hard as humanly possible. So to do that, you need to put all kinds of negative feedback on yourself for not doing the habit. Some ideas: If you join a forum or a real-world group or give people you know regular updates, or update your blog readers (see ideas in #1 above), you will face the embarrassment of having to tell people you didn’t do the challenge. Get a partner or coach or trainer, or your spouse, to make sure you do the habit, and to nag you if you don’t. If you’re trying to develop the reading habit, remove all other temptations. If you’re trying to exercise, get rid of the TV and Internet and make your house uncomfortable, until you do your exercise. Once you exercise, get your cable TV box or Internet modem back from your neighbor who was holding it for you. If you’re trying to quit smoking, tell your kids not to let you smoke. I’m sure you can think of many others — get creative!”
The homework assignment for all my followers out there is to read and absorb this entire article! I truly believe it puts in perspective perfectly the ways in which we can take control of our habits to help endure a healthy – and most importantly, happy, lifestyle.
As always, have a fabulous weekend!!! And stay tuned! We have lots of great things in the works for my readers, patients and clients….If you’d like to join our practice, click the “Get A Free Consultation” link above.
Remember: you DO NOT have to be from Connecticut to join our wellness program!
Dr. Emily Nolfo