The new approach to New Year resolutions

New Year, new beginnings 2014 series: We all struggle with making the big changes in our lives, but new research shows that there is an easier way to make those improvements


The new approach to New Year resolutions

Making it work for you

Keytsone habits develop through our taking advantage of habit loops (cue, routine and reward). So, if you have decided you want to go for a run each morning, says Duhigg, the thing to do is choose a very simple cue (for example, lacing up your trainers before breakfast) and a clear reward (such as the feeling of satisfaction that you’ve done it) that will help alter your routine.

However, he says that the rewards won’t be enough at first so you should teach you brain to associate exercise with a reward you will enjoy, like a piece of chocolate, to encourage compliance. After a while, you won’t need the chocolate – you’ll eventually get your ‘high’ from the exercise endorphins.

Until your body learns to enjoy the endorphins and other rewards (such as toning up), the chocolate reward is like a ‘jump-start’ to help cement the keystone habit. Success depends on perseverance but also on simply doing it. ‘We put too much emphasis on what people say and think instead of what they do,’ adds Professor Fletcher. ‘My simple mantra is, if you want to change behaviour, change behaviour!’ Keep it small and focused.

For more tips, stories and advice on making 2014 great, read the rest of our New Year, new beginning series, click here.

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