I’m a big believer in the annual check-in for self-improvement. Goal setting helps us stay focused, develop as a human being and reflect on where we’ve come from…don’t forget that last one. In this article we’ll look at the importance of the yearly weigh-in, what you might want to focus on (spoiler: exercise will be on the list) and how to appreciate the journey.
Making Change Happen
What we’re looking at is the fascinatingly complicated area of psychology of behaviour change. Resolutions are our chance to highlight an area of our lives we’d like to change. Whether it’s based on heavy reflection of the previous year, a long-standing aspiration or a sense of expectation, we’ll set a goal that often requires a change in behaviour.
Researchers Mukhopadhyay and Johar1 studied what makes for successful resolution-setters and the results are inspiring. They showed an association, irrespective of the goals, between self-efficacy and resolution success.
Self-efficacy is the belief in our own ability to achieve goals.
Someone with high-self efficacy “I believe I can do this” has a greater likelihood of achieving their goals. Just as with the beautiful quotation by Confucius:
“Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both usually right”
Deciding What to Change
Importantly doing something little is better than thinking about doing something big. Big or little what are you going to change?
In medicine we’re taught reflection as a tool to help deal with the uncertainty and emotional intensity of supporting colleagues and patients. The process of reflection facilitates change, with practice it can help to make us dynamic learners and in the context of New Year’s resolutions can help us to create meaningful and enduring goals.
Think about an area of 2019, an area of your current life or a previous goal.
It’s very easy to assign blame or focus on factors outside of our control when contemplating what could change. It’s New Year New Me, not New Them. The only thing we have control over are our actions (as taught with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, it’s important to remember that it’s our actions and not our feelings).
With a goal on the horizon it’s time to take action. How you do this can dictate how motivated you are in the face of setbacks.
- Outcome oriented – focus lies on the result or singular target
e.g. To win a race, to cut out sugar, to quit smoking
- Process oriented – focus on steps required or tasks undertaken to achieve a goal
e.g. To train for a race, to reduce my smoking each week or to seek help with smoking cessation.
For the yearly personal development, why not identify some process goals? We often have no idea what we can achieve so rather than focus on a single outcome, focus on the journey of learning the language or improving your fitness.
Do More – Incorporate Exercise
My seminars often start with the definitions of physical activity and exercise, this sounds like such a dry topic but the message isn’t. Physical activity is any body movement that requires energy. Exercise is physical activity with the purpose of improving physical fitness. Exercise is movement with a purpose of improving.
Increasing your level of physical activity this year will help to achieve your goals. I don’t even know your goals but I’m confident this will still be the case. The benefits to exercise (see ‘Five reasons to exercise right now’) are so broad it’ll always help on the journey of self-improvement.
- More calm and mindful with yoga like @Modern_Organic or @YogaCollectiveTerrigal
- More energy and better mental health with movement like @CentralCoastDanceStudio or @IM.GymErina
- Better social support with an exercise groups like @The_Collective_Gym, @TerrigalTrotters or @Girlguide_Health
- More adventure or fun for the family with @TreeTopsAust or @CentralCoastAquaPark
- Rehabilitation or conditioning with trainers like @FluidMovementPerformance or @CentralCoastPhysiolates
- Push yourself with @f45_training_gosford, @CrossFit_Facilitate or @Lift3CentralCoast
- Experience the great outdoors with @KayakCentralCoast a beach workout with @OBCCentralCoast or a challenge with @TeamsChallengeAustralia
Are you a provider of a physical activity on the Central Coast?
‘’Do More’’ is all about helping local businesses to grow whilst improving the physical activity levels of the local community. Dr Ash Bowden is calling out for new local providers to sign up to this fantastic community health initiative.
Interested in supporting Doctor Do More as a sponsor?
Are you involved in a business who also has a goal of helping to improve the health and wellness of the Central Coast Community?
Doctor Do More is seeking active expressions of interest for likeminded businesses who would like to become a sponsoring partner.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
1Mukhopadhyay, A., & Johar, G.V. (2005). “Where there is a will, is there a way? Effects of lay theories of self-control on setting and keeping resolutions” Journal of Consumer Research, 31(4), 779-786