Tips for REAL, sustainable behavior change (New Year’s resolution time!)
by Dr. Michelle Drapkin
As we get ready for the new year, are you thinking of a whole new you?
Yup. ‘Tis the season of New Year’s resolutions. That is not a bad thing and let’s give your resolutions a bit more oomph to help them stick.
We can do this! Together…
Here is some unsolicited advice based on my background in behavior science, Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), and, well, life:
Throw the SMART goals in the dumpster. They pigeonhole you into a tiny little corner and are more demoralizing than helpful. Instead, pick a goal that has some flexibility. Dan Harris often talks about meditating “daily-ish” (going for almost every day but not beating yourself up if you skip a day for, well, being human).
Don’t start with goals in the first place. Instead, discover your “why.” Try a values exercise to really connect with what is important and meaningful to YOU, what drives you. You might think you know your values implicitly and there is no harm in getting explicit about it. In my work, we most often use a values card sort exercise. Print ’em out and sort into piles of importance. Then, narrow down to your MOST important – say, Top 10 Values. Finally, rank order them. These values will help keep you connected to what is important to you and help you make important choices. Protip – take a pic of your top values and keep it close by!
With your values in hand, pick a starting point. Re-evaluate your New Year’s resolution. Is it values consistent? How? Why? If not, pick one that is more in line with your values.
When the going gets tough – and it will – revisit your values. Remind yourself of what is important and why sticking with the behavior change journey is important to you.
Final tip (for now) – don’t beat yourself up. Pull back and give yourself credit for the strides you ARE making. Catch your mind judging yourself. A behavior change journey is never a straight line. Bumps in the road are expected and are opportunities to figure out what is/isn’t working.
This is just the tip of the tips iceberg. Subscribe to the “Better Access to Better Care” Newsletter and follow me for more evidence-based behavior science and info on my upcoming book The Motivational Interviewing Path to Personal Change: The Essential Workbook for Creating the Life You Want coming out in 2023 from New Harbinger Publications.