I hope you enjoyed my last blog on creating Mental Health New Year’s Resolutions.  By now, you are about a week and a half into the New Year 2017. And the strength of your will for meeting your goals may already be getting put to the test.  Interested in how to meet your New Year’s resolutions this year a little easier?  You’ve done the planning, set your SMART goal.  That’s a very good start. Now, make plans for how to work with yourself rather than against yourself.

There are two sides to every person: the Planner and the Doer.  The Planner is the thinking, dreaming side of ourselves that has big goals and sees what life could be like if we just changed our habits.

The Doer is the right-here, right-now part of ourselves that focuses on our needs and wants in this moment. We like to think that our goal-oriented selves are the SAME as our decision-making selves, but many different fields of study show that this is not the case.  

If we make it easier for the Doer and Planner parts of ourselves to align, then we will start seeing our goals get met just a little easier.  Because when we do this, we rely less on the “strength of our will” and more on natural psychology and human behavior.


Set Up Your Environment for Success

We are surprisingly very limited in how far we will go to get what we want (unless there’s a strong emotional driver like revenge or love or guilt.)  This is just a nice way of saying that for the smaller, less important things in life, we are lazy!  But thankfully we can use this to our advantage!  Set up your surroundings to encourage the habits you want to see – make it easy to achieve your goals.  The behavior you want needs to be set up to seem like the default response.

How you can use this to help meet your goals:

Healthy Eating: Put your junk food in the upper shelves of cabinets, towards the back. Then put your healthy snack options at eye-level in open places.  Like apples and bananas on the countertop or veggies in the front of the refrigerator shelf.  You will always have the option of getting the junk food, but the healthy options are easier and you’ll start to choose these more often.

Working out in Mornings: Go to bed in your workout clothes!

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We hate loss

The work of two psychologists, Tversky and Kahneman, shows that the typical person responds differently depending on if a choice is framed as a gain or a loss. When presented with this choice:

Option A: Gaining an absolute amount (say, $25) or

Option B: Taking a 25% chance to gain substantially more (like $100) but having a 75% chance of winning nothing,

most people take the less risky option of $25.  But in reverse, if the question is framed as a loss:

Option A: Losing an absolute amount ($75) or

Option B: Taking a 75% chance to lose $100 but having a 25% chance of losing nothing,

Most people take the more risky option of gambling between losing $100 or $0. This is because the pleasure of gaining something is LESS than the pain of giving it up.

How you can use this to help meet your goals:

Healthy Eating: ADD things to your diet without taking anything away.  Start eating more vegetables and fruits. Here’s the catch: eat the healthy foods before eating the unhealthy parts of your meal.  You will fill faster and eat less unhealthy food without even trying! You will also crave the unhealthy food less over time, leading to better eating habits WITHOUT denying yourself anything.

Saving More: Set up part of your paycheck to go directly into your savings account rather than getting the full amount in checking.  This way you automatically save and don’t feel you have to “give anything up.”

Exercising More: Do intense, short workouts in-between commercial breaks.

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Make Decision Points

The Lay’s commercial saying “Betcha can’t eat just one!” is a very true statement.  After making the decision to open a bag of chips, our minds leave the decision-making mode and our eating becomes automatic. Chip after chip pops into your mouth with little to no awareness (for me, this is especially true with Oreos!)  When you finish the bag, you may find yourself surprised at where all the chips (or Oreos) went!

Forcing yourself out of the automatic consumption mode will require you to make a new decision about continuing to consume or not.  This is called making a “decision point.”  Making decision points is a tactic that can be used to cut back in automatic consumption behaviors, such as eating or shopping.

How you can use this to help meet your goals:

Healthy Eating: Buy “snack size” options or put chips into smaller sandwich bags.  Then when you finish that bag you can decide whether to start a new smaller one or not, instead of eating the entire BIG bag full.

Spending Less: Divide your money into smaller amounts that you place in separate envelopes. Dividing the money will make decision points so you are aware of how much you’ve spent and can make an informed decision rather than automatic purchase.

Being on “screens” or social media less: Set a timer to interrupt your flow. Or use chrome extensions to limit how much time you can spend on certain sites, such as: Chrome Nanny, Stay Focused, or Strict Pomodoro.  For more information on how you spend time online, check out RescueTime.

Are these tips the end-all be-all of you attaining your goals? No.  You will still struggle with making habit changes because change is hard! But with some, or even just one, of these strategies in place, meeting your New Year’s Resolution will be a little easier to achieve.


Interested in working with a licenced professional through online counseling? Have any more questions about how to change your habits this new year? Contact me by email or call at (531) 289-8246.  Together we can work towards you achieving your goals.