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Much research has been done on when exactly people tend to break their New Year’s resolutions. And while some studies have shown it’s around the middle of January, others have said sometime within the first month, but the fact there is such research alone should indicate how common it is.
According to Tara Hurster, psychologist and director of the TARA Clinic, it’s often because of your goal either not being very SMART (specific/measurable/action-oriented/time-bound) or it being extrinsic in nature.
“When we are extrinsically motivated, it means our motivation comes from external sources such as rewards or punishment,” she says. “This motivation doesn’t tend to provide the environment for long-term change — rather, it’s useful for short-term changes with immediate external responses.
“Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is motivation that comes from within us and is closely linked to longer-term change — because we are doing these things we truly want to and intrinsically enjoy the activities. So, finding things that align with your intrinsic motivation will result in you needing less accountability.”
Ahead, Hurster shares five other ways you can also make sure you stick with your health and wellbeing resolutions and goals, ensuring they don’t fall by the wayside.
Be Honest With Yourself
“If we can’t be honest with ourselves first, then we are likely to struggle with most things! My advice is to take off your judgment pants and pop on your reality pants. That way, you can look at the situation with clear eyes and choose to make the changes you are looking for.”
Remove Any Blame
“Shame and guilt are linked to blame and they keep you in the pre-contemplation stage of change. That means, you either don’t believe there is a problem or you don’t believe there is a solution… so, in both situations, you are unlikely to take action.”
Develop Healthy Habits
“Habits are activities and actions that we do almost in a mindless way — so if you are going to be mindless about anything, then it is good to have that thing be helpful.”
“Rewarding yourself helps to build intrinsic motivation, though it is also important to be mindful of how you are choosing to reward yourself. For example, if the reward for completing your scheduled daily run for the week is eating Maccas for the whole weekend, it won’t really be helping you much. It is best to look for rewards that nourish you internally (not just from a healthy food perspective), so things like time with friends, a massage or visiting a gallery can be great rewards.”
Keep Track of Your Progress
“Just like the horrible story of the frog in a pot experiment from decades ago, often we don’t notice the changes we are making when they happen in small increments. Having something measurable that you can point to and see how far you’ve come boosts intrinsic motivation, which is clearly the buzzword for this article.”