Successful New Year’s Resolutions

by Jessica Jeffers

new-years-day-1892263_960_720Another holiday season has come and gone. The decorations are starting to come down, the gifts have been dispensed, and we are turning our attention towards a new year. For many people, that means it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions. Whether we want to lose weight, stop smoking, or start getting organized, January 1 is a popular time to start making changes in our lives and our behavior.

But now we’ve hit the mid-January slump. Unfortunately many people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on their goals before the month is even over. That doesn’t mean we’re doomed to fail, though. It just means we need to approach our resolutions with a game plan meant to encourage success. A 2002 article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology reported that resolvers with a concrete plan were much more likely to have succeeded in sticking to their resolutions at the six-month mark (Norcross et al, 2002).

Abigail Levrini and Frances Prevatt outline one such plan in their book Succeeding with Adult ADHD (2012). Though meant specifically to help adults with ADHD, the basic principles can be generalized to many people looking to make their own behavioral changes.

 

  1.  Set long-term goals

Goals should be measurable, time sensitive, and process-based. What does that mean? You have to be specific when identifying what it is you want to achieve. Your goal should be something that you can empirically demonstrate you have accomplished. But that’s not all. To stay on track, it’s important to give yourself a timeline to define the actions that you will take to reach the goal. It’s not enough to just say that you want to lose weight. Tell yourself “I want to lose 15 pounds by June 1 by going to the gym three times a week and replacing sweet snacks with veggies.”

 

  1.   Create weekly objectives

New-Year_Resolutions_listYou’re not going to reach your goals overnight. Making changes in your life takes time and patience. Get there by identifying steps along the way, so that you practice new behaviors until they become habits. If you want to train for a half marathon, create a schedule in which you start out running just a mile or two and gradually add a little more distance week by week.

 

  1.   Add rewards and consequences to increase motivation

It feels good to cross objectives off your list. But feeling good isn’t always enough to keep some people working steadily towards their resolutions. The concept of rewards and consequences is a basic psychological principle that can help. As you make progress, remember to treat yourself! If your weekly objective was to spend an hour at the gym, kick off those running shoes and catch up on your favorite TV show when you’re done. But remember to hold yourself accountable if you slip-up. These consequences don’t need to be big—if you decide to skip your workout on Wednesday, the consequence can be as simple as also skipping that grande latte on Thursday morning.

 

  1.   Use metacognition to discover what works

Metacognition is defined as the “awareness of one’s own cognitive processes, often involving a conscious attempt to control them” (VandenBos, 2015). In this context, it means thinking about the way you approach your goals, acknowledging what works, and identifying how you can change what doesn’t work. Levrini and Prevatt suggest tracking your progress by keeping a journal. As you notice patterns emerging, you can adjust your weekly objectives, rewards, or consequences accordingly.

 

Committing to long-term change can be difficult, but applying these psychological principles and making a plan can go a long way towards helping you succeed with your New Year’s resolutions.

 

References

Levrini, A., & Prevatt, F. F. (2012). Succeeding With Adult ADHD: Daily Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Manage Your Life. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Norcross, J.C., Mrykalo, M.S., & Blagys, M.D. (2002). Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year’s Resolvers and Nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 397-405.

VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2015). APA Dictionary of Psychology (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

December Releases from APA Books!

entrenchment Entrenchment and the Psychology of Language Learning 

How We Reorganize and Adapt Linguistic Knowledge

Edited by Hans-Jörg Schmid

Copublished with De Gruyter Mouton

This volume enlists more than two dozen experts in the fields of linguistics, psycholinguistics, neurology, and cognitive psychology to investigate the concept of entrenchment—the ongoing reorganization and adaptation of communicative knowledge.  Entrenchment posits that our linguistic knowledge is continuously refreshed and reorganized under the influence of social interactions.  Contributors examine the psychological foundations of linguistic entrenchment processes, and the role of entrenchment in first-language acquisition, second language learning, and language attrition. Critical views of entrenchment and some of its premises and implications are discussed from the perspective of dynamic complexity theory and radical embodied cognitive science.

 

geropsych Ethical Practice in Geropsychology

Principles, Procedures, and Practices

by Shane S. Bush, Victor A. Molinari, and Rebecca S. Allen

Psychologists who work with older adults find themselves encountering a number of novel issues. Determining a client’s decision-making capacity, balancing a client’s autonomy with his or her well-being, and juggling differing priorities from various parties—the clients, their families, other healthcare professionals, etc.—give rise to a number of complicated ethical and legal quandaries. The easy-to-follow decision-making model provided in this book will help clinicians make the most ethically sound decisions possible in these challenging situations. Clinical vignettes illustrate how to handle ethical and legal issues in a variety of contexts.

 

integrated-behavioral Integrated Behavioral Health in Primary Care

Step-By-Step Guidance for Assessment and Intervention

SECTOND EDITION

by Christopher L. Hunter, Jeffery L. Goodie, Mark S. Oordt, and Anne C. Dobmeyer

This timely new edition of Integrated Behavioral Health in Primary Care brings the reader up to speed with the changing aspects of primary care service delivery in response to the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), the Triple-Aim health approach, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Drawing on research evidence and years of experience, the authors provide practical information and guidance for behavioral health care practitioners who wish to work more effectively in the fast-paced setting of primary care, and provide detailed advice for addressing common health problems such as generalized anxiety disorder, depression, weight issues, sleep problems, cardiovascular disorders, pain disorders, sexual problems, and more.  New to this edition are chapters on population health and the PCMH; children, adolescents, and parenting; couples; managing suicide risk; and shared medical appointments.

 

starting-career Starting Your Career in Academic Psychology

by Robert J. Sternberg

This book provides a systematic guide for jump-starting a career in academic psychology—from applying and interviewing for academic positions, to settling in at a new job, to maximizing success during the pre-tenure years. The chapters cover all key skills in which new faculty must become proficient: teaching, conducting and funding faculty-level research, serving the department and field, and “softer” activities such as networking and navigating university politics. Given the demands and competition in the field, this guide is an essential roadmap for new faculty.

 

 

supervision-aedp Supervision Essentials for Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy

by Natasha Prenn and Diana Fosha

Utilizing insights from attachment theory and research in neuroplasticity, Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) clinicians help clients unearth, explore and process core feelings in order to transform anxiety and defensiveness into long-lasting, positive change.  In this book, AEDP founders and leaders Natasha C. N. Prenn and Diana Fosha offer a model of clinical supervision that is based on the AEDP approach.  Using close observation of videotaped sessions, AEDP supervisors model a strong focus on here-and-now interactions, with a full awareness of affective resonance, empathy, and dyadic affect regulation phenomena.  The goal is to offer trainees a visceral, transformative experience that complements their growing intellectual understanding of how change occurs in AEDP.