January 6, 2017

Helping resolutions stick

Like many people you, as a family caregiver, may have made some New Year resolutions and may have already lost your momentum. All those good intentions you have...

– Call or visit once a week
– Fuss less over details
– Make time to exercise
– Practice gratitude

Stop beating yourself up for “lack of willpower.” Willpower is so overrated! As it turns out, cues in the environment trigger habits without the decision-making part of your brain being involved.

To support your goal, try addressing the initial trigger. For instance:

Avoid temptation. Successful habit-changers outsmart themselves. It’s not that these people are better at resisting candy, but they avoid situations where candy will be present. So for example, if you tend to lose your cool when Mom starts to praise your sister, excuse yourself and end the phone call or visit.

Set reminders. Many who have been unsuccessful in keeping a resolution say they simply forgot. To set you up for success, put a physical reminder in plain sight. If your resolution is to get more exercise, keep your walking shoes at the door. Or if you are trying to remain calm, tape a cue word such as ‘calm’ beside your toothbrush.

Put it on the calendar. If you want to do something, schedule it! If you want to be in touch with family more, make an appointment with yourself to call your relative. Be automatically reminded by putting it on your calendar or in your phone.

Create a “space.” Those who want to exercise usually find that going to a gym removes distractions and allows them to focus better. For writing in a gratitude journal you might create a cozy writing corner. Or select upbeat music for the drive to your Dad’s.

If you have already stumbled in your New Year’s resolution, it is not too late! Try again while focusing on the cues to support your success.

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