Regardless of the resource you consult, “resolution” is defined as a promise, pledge, oath, or vow to change. Change of behavior is our expertise! We could publish a plethora of white papers based on collective recommendations (gleaned through research prowess, of course) of behavior influencers, impact of distinct stimulus, and identifying primary drivers of habit – that is what we marketers and researchers do! Likewise, change for scholars should be a breeze.
If defining your resolution is significantly easier than accomplishing change, we provide scholarly advice of the academic and historic ilk. According to John F. Kennedy, Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
As we research the topic of change, many familiar terms emerge: Attitude & Information, Reinforcement, Environment, Incentives, and Social Influencers & Behavior Modeling. It seems we might be well-prepared for change, and importantly, applying what we learn through our work can prove to be personally gratifying.
In addition to a thoughtful written plan of action, the following primary elements of successfully accomplishing change may enlighten your path:
Attitude & Information: Establishing a realistic goal and sufficient time to accomplish it (old news I know) is consistently reiterated. That said, uncompromised belief in change is essential. Informational rationale should serve as your impetus. Research the topic with vigor and take notes on critical supportive elements. Beginning this way will cognitively establish your goal as important and provide tangible benefits toward the efforts. Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing. Abraham Lincoln
Reinforcement: As life takes over, goals towards change can be challenged and hindered. Reinforcement of the set goals can progress by recruiting a partner to help keep you accountable in your goal, creating “reminders” on your outlook calendar, posting inspiring images (or typed reminders noted from your research) in prominent places, or subscribing to electronic daily inspirations. Change is inevitable. Progress is optional. Tony Robbins
Environment: Changing the environment where your behavioral issues occur is a necessary reinforcement. Examples: limiting spending may require leaving credit cards at home (or destroying them), improving time management may require use of a stop watch or complete a timesheet for a month; exercising more or losing weight might require daily gym clothes in your car, or stocking healthy snacks at work. To change stubborn behaviors, establishing beneficial or replacing destructive habits are necessary. The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates
Incentives: Effective for respondent cooperation and change-seekers alike! Similar to multi-phase research studies, academics recommend short-term and final incentives to sustain behavior changes. Common sense and caution should be utilized when establishing incentives, and it is recommended that the reward be external to the category. For example, a purchase is not appropriate for limiting spending goals. In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences. Robert Green Ingersoll
Social Influencers and Behavior Modeling: Surround yourself with people who currently display the behaviors you desire. Making new friends at the gym, yoga class, work, or establishing supportive connections through a social networking site can help you adhere to your goals. Distancing yourself (at least temporarily until new behaviors are established) from destructive influencers and replacing the time spent with encouraging people will reinforce the habits you are changing. All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity are easy. Stay away from easy. Scott Alexander
Cheers to positive change, great health, and prosperity in 2015!