Studies show that by February, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned. So how do you make sure yours are among the 20 percent that are kept longer than a couple of months?
Psychologists say it’s important to focus not on the goal but on the process of change. New Year’s resolutions often fail because they encourage a goal-oriented, rather than a process-oriented approach. It’s not about achieving a single goal, it’s about developing a habit or set of habits that result in the desired goal(s).
“The process of change starts with understanding that a behavior is producing negative consequences,” says Dr. Michele Nealon, Psy.D., President of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. “Then comes the internal negotiation—evaluating the pros and cons of changing. When you decide to change, then comes preparation, and this is critical—set yourself up for success.”
“Next, decide your action steps and how you plan to maintain or modify these steps over time,” she adds. “Finally, plan for falling off the wagon—and get right back on track.”
According to Dr. Nealon, this process can take weeks or months, so that is another reason why New Year’s resolutions often don’t work. “It’s difficult to wake up one day and suddenly decide you will change a long-held habit or practice,” she says. “Better to give yourself some time to think over the entire process and make sure that you are committed to change."
She offers five tips for increasing chances of successful change include:
- Make change actionable and measurable
- Create a plan for incremental change; taking small steps to start
- Challenge yourself to be accountable or find an accountability partner
- Be forgiving; when you inevitably fall off the wagon, get back up
About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology:
Integrating theory with hands-on experience, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology provides education rooted in a commitment to innovation, service, and community for thousands of diverse students across the United States and globally. Founded in 1979, the nonprofit, regionally accredited university now features campuses in iconic locations across the country (Chicago, Southern California, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Dallas) and online. To spark positive change in the world where it matters most, The Chicago School has continued to expand its educational offerings beyond the field of psychology to offer more than 30 degrees and certificates in the professional fields of health services, education, counseling, business, and more. Through its engaged professional model of education, commitment to diversity and inclusion, and an extensive network of domestic and international professional partnerships, The Chicago School’s students receive real-world training opportunities that reflect their future careers. The Chicago School is proud to be a part of TCS Education System, a nonprofit, integrated system of colleges and universities that works collaboratively to advance student success and community impact. To learn more, visit www.thechicagoschool.edu.