Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resolve to Reach Resolution

So, you've made yet another new year's resolution:  to lose weight, to exercise more, to quit smoking, to spend less.  This time, you promise yourself, your sticking to it.  Really.

So where there's a will, there's a way, right?  Well, that's true, sort of, according to a recent article in the New York Times by John Tierney.  Turns out, we all have willpower, it just happens to be finite.  When there's willpower left in the tank, there's a way.

So, how does one keep from spending one's limited supply of willpower?  Avoid temptation.  Easy, right?

Let's say your resolution is to quit smoking.  All you have to do is avoid situations where cigarettes lurk.  In Seattle, the smoking ban in bars and restaurants is tremendously helpful.  But there's still the "smoker's corners" outside office buildings.  The ads for cigarettes at every gas station, convenience store, and grocery.  That's a lot of opportunity for temptation to set in.  Choose your daily route carefully.

So, what replenishes willpower?  Positive reinforcement.  What should you do with the money you saved by not buying a pack of cigarettes today?  Reward yourself with another pleasurable purchase:  a fun app for your phone, a favorite magazine, a warm drink, anything that says "reward!" to the pleasure center of your brain.  Longer-term rewards are good, too.  Curtailing a $6/day habit after a year could net you as much as $2000.  Cruise much, lately?

Accountability is another major factor in sticking to the resolution.  Share successes with a close confidante. Share failures, too.  Do a post-mortem on what's going well, and where you'd like to improve.  Saying it out loud to someone, writing it in a journal, keeping a blog, tweeting, putting post-it notes around your home or office (or both!), all of these activities will increase the "stickiness" of the changes you're making and will help hold you accountable to your plan.

There's enough willpower in your account to make the changes you'd like to see in your life.  Spend that willpower wisely, and when in doubt, phone a friend!

1 comment:

DARREN Winland said...

Unfortunately I don't have a willpower to lose weight... What can you advise me?