Tis the season to regret all the cookies, chocolate, and rich foods you ate over the last few weeks and start the New Year off right! Resolution time is here. Do you make them? Do you think they work? Do you incorporate behavioral change methods in your resolutions? Simply deciding to do something new or stop doing something old without making corresponding changes in your ability to do so will not have the impact you’re looking for.
- You have to have the capability to change.
- You have to have the motivation or desire to change.
- You have to have the opportunity to change.
If these three conditions exist, you can change. So let’s say your goal for 2014 is to sit less. However, you have a job where you sit at a computer all day, and while you know that sitting is not good for you, you like your job and quite frankly your family and mortgage like your job too. You might be motivated to sit less but unless your employer supports you in this desire for example by helping you install a standing or treadmill desk, or removing all the chairs from the conference rooms, you might not have the capability to change. Or let’s say you want to walk to work but your office is 20 miles from your home in an industrial park off a freeway. Again you might have the motivation, but not the opportunity unless you are able to change jobs.
One year I decided that I had become old before my time (in my pajamas by 9 on a Friday, if you must know), and I made three resolutions:
- Drink more cocktails
- See more films
- Go to more art galleries.
Now, you’re thinking, these don’t sound like good New Year’s resolutions, but according to the factors that facilitate behavior change, I was on the right track. I had disposable income, single friends, and lived in a large metropolitan area with plenty of theatres and art galleries. Friends were more than happy to help me keep these resolutions, and I got out of my hermit-like funk and was inspired by connecting with people, the vibrancy of the city, and by art.
If you need some help designing your resolutions, first off use the simple framework. Are you capable? Are you motivated? Do you have the opportunity to make the change? If any of these is no, consider whether these factors can change. This video by behavior change expert, BJ Fogg can also help you break it down to something that is manageable.
Finally, get help! Studies show that even if friends of your friends are obese, you have a greater chance of being overweight. The same is true with positive behavior. As a long time “left-coast” dweller, I can attest to the positive transformation that happens when people move here and are surrounded by those with an active lifestyle. Get some friends together who are working towards the same goal. Start a walking group at work. Employee wellness was one of the hot topics of 2013, and while some of the promise of employer-organized wellness programs have not come to fruition, there are simple things that employees and employers can do to facilitate change. We loved these examples from the BUPA HQ in London. If any employee has the motivation, the company facilitates the opportunity.
Best in 2014 from all of us at Wellpepper for a healthy and happy year!