Various studies report the failure rate of New Year’s Resolutions by the end of January to be between 70-90%. Regardless of the actual statistic the majority of New Year’s Resolutions have been abandoned already!
One of the reasons this happens is that people rely on willpower to change something they’ve been doing (or not doing) for years. Willpower is not ideal for creating sustainable change as it gets depleted the more we use it. This was discovered by researcher Roy Baumeister using chocolate chip cookies! Participants were asked to arrive having eaten nothing 3 hours before the exercise. They were segregated into 3 groups – the group asked not to eat the cookies quit faster in solving a subsequent puzzle then the other groups. This is because they had depleted their willpower, perseverance or mental energy avoiding the cookies that they had nothing left for an apparent simple and unrelated puzzle.
One way to continue with your resolutions is to ritualize small things leading you towards your desired change and making it easier to choose those small things over easy alternatives.
- Small steps
- Make the good choice easier
When I gave up refined sugar a few years ago I:
- Made the decision of no added sugar, full stop! When offered drinks, desserts or chocolates I just said no; no dilemma, no willpower needed.
- Replaced my peanut butter, yogurt and sauces etc with ones containing no added sugar.
- Removed sugar from my house (the cook and baker in me cringed).
- Identified new recipes that supported my new eating regime and froze elements of the meals in advance for easy prep.
What ritual or small change can you enact to live the desired change you’d like?