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3 tips to help with your New Year’s resolution

December 19, 2013
Amanda Durik

Amanda Durik

Got a New Year’s resolution in mind? NIU Psychology Professor Amanda Durik offers three motivational science-based tips that could help you accomplish your goals.

Durik blogs on the topic this week on the Psychology Today website. (NIU psychology professors are regular contributors to the site.) She says accumulating research in the science of motivation suggests that three general strategies might help.

1)      Connect the desired behavior to core values.

“When people think about behaviors more abstractly, they find temptations less tempting,” Durik says. So, instead of thinking of behavior specifically (such as, throw out the cigarettes), it’s better to make the connection to more abstract personal values (such as, live a healthier life).

2)      Prepare in advance for the moment to act.

Individuals can create a link to desired behaviors by visualizing anticipated situations and planning to engage in specific behaviors.  For example, a smoker with the resolve to quit might think, “When I feel the urge to grab a cigarette, I’ll grab a piece of gum, instead.”

3)      Focus initially on progress made.

At least at first, Durik says, it’s best to focus on the gains you’ve made toward your goal, rather than how much more work needs to be done.  For instance, the recovering smoker should initially focus on how many smoking opportunities have been successfully avoided, rather than dwell on how many more there are to cope with in the future.

For Durik’s full blog entry, visit the Psychology Today website.