Paul Taylor, an Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist and Neuroscientist, offers his 6 tips for a successful New Year’s Resolutions in the new decade.
1. Find your ‘Why?’
Anthony Robbins says ‘Find your why and you’ll find your way” but the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said well over 100 years ago “He who has a why to live, can bear almost any how” The Psychologists Deci and Ryan have studied health behaviour change in tens of thousands of people and have found that those who succeed in the long-term pass what they call the ‘Threshold of Autonomy’ – where they discover why achieving their goals is important to them at a deeper level. Motivators such as rewards, guilt and co-coercion (people nagging you) can be successful in the short-term but generally fail in the long-term.
2. Scaffold your goals.
The biggest contributor to successful long-term behaviour change is self-efficacy – the belief that what I’m doing is making a difference. This means that your brain needs regular feedback. I’ve found that the best way to do facilitate this is to break long-term goals down to smaller chunks. When working with clients, the maximum length of goal I allow them to focus on is one month away – and then they need to break the goal down into weekly waypoints and daily actions (behaviours) that they need to do to meet these waypoints. If their goal is long-term, such as losing 10Kg of weight, I get them to write that down, then forget about it. They need to work out how much they will lose in the next month, and then break that down to weekly way-points. Then they write down the actions they need to take to meet that way-point. Long-term goals are best met one week at a time, and process trumps goals every day of the week.
3. Motivation Follows Action.
Once you have your waypoints worked out, you write down a list of behaviours (rituals) on a board and put the board somewhere where you will see it lots of times a day. This is called your Ritual Board and it’s central to your success. On this board, you put some hard rituals, but also lots of easy rituals so that you can complete one every time you see your board and tick it off. For instance, if you’re trying to get fit, you may put going to the gym 3 times a week and going for a run twice a week (hard rituals), but you will have lots of small rituals on there as well, such as squats and push-ups. When you walk past your board, you can then do 10 or 20 squats or push-ups (what I call movement snacks) and then write how many you did on the board. This little win, coupled with the feedback of writing it on your board, releases a little bit of dopamine in your brain – and dopamine is the chemical of motivation. Then you gasify the little rituals and try to beat your weekly totals next week.
4. JFT (Just For Today)
Every morning, you get up, look at yourself in the mirror and say “Just For Today” (JFT). “Just for today, I’m not going to smoke (or drink alcohol or eat crap food) or I will do a workout or eat healthy food. Taking things one day at a time and committing to the action out loud while looking on the mirror is a very helpful strategy. Sounds a bit weird, but you’ll get used to it and the science shows it’s very helpful.
5. Do a weekly audit
Every Sunday, do a self-reflection exercise. Give yourself a score out of 10 and reflect on what was good and what was not so good. Then give yourself a target score for next week. If you had a bad week (say 3 or 4 out of ten), don’t use it as an excuse to give up – use to it strengthen your resolve for next week. If you scored an 8, 9, or 10 – that’s awesome – see if you can match it next week.
6. Buddy up
Many research studies have shown that when people get an accountability partner – someone who is along the journey with you, or on the sidelines to keep you accountable – they are much more successful at achieving their goals. So teaming up with your partner or friend to achieve a goal together, or having someone on the sidelines that holds you accountable to your actions with weekly check-ins, is a great idea. Commit to certain behaviours a number of times a week and have this person check in with you every week.
Paul Taylor is a former British Royal Navy Aircrew Officer and former Affiliate Faculty at The University of San Francisco. He is the Director of The Body-Brain Performance Institute, where he delivers Executive Performance, Resilience and Leadership workshops to large companies such as Medibank, NAB, Johnson & Johnson, Oracle, SAP and Woolworths.
If you would like to book Paul in your next conference, please contact Keith on 0450 077 997 or firstname.lastname@example.org