If you are like me, and 60% of other Canadians, you’ve made a New Year’s resolution related to weight loss, healthy eating, improved finances, exercise and getting a new job. My resolution is to eat healthier. That really boils down to packing a lunch for work.
During the bounty of the Christmas season, I attempted to improve my odds of “resolution success” by reading some of the top thinkers in habit creation. Charles Duhigg is a New York Times investigative reporter and author of “The Power of Habit”. He synthesized numerous interviews and research publications into a model that explains how habits are formed. The “habit loop” is where an environmental cue (stomach growling) automatically leads to a behavioral cue (eating candy left lying around the staff room) that results in a reward (brain has sugar). The trick to developing any habit is repetition, repetition, repetition.
So, if I want stop snacking on sugar at work, I need to tie my environmental cue (stomach growling) to my new habit (healthy lunch) and then reinforce the habit with a reward (appetite sated). Dr. John C. Norcross, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton and author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions, would applaud me for choosing a very specific and realistic goal. He would also encourage me to share my resolution with family and friends. Check, check.
While I started off strong, I found myself rolling into clinic without a lunch this week. Much to my relief, 70% of “successful resolvers” do get off track in later January. The key is to recommit and use your social support system to get back on track. These include friends, online support groups, family members, co-workers and me, your healthcare provider.
To learn more about habit creation consider the following top 2017 reads