5 Tips to Successfully Influence Your Behavior in the New Year

January 25, 2022 – Yalanis Vélez 

Setting New Year’s resolutions is probably one of the healthiest traditions we have. It sets our mood up for improvement and gives us the chance to start better and smarter in the new year. When a year ends, we have the opportunity to look back from its beginnings, review all we have learned and create a whole new plan for the year to come. This can be a very exciting and inspiring journey if we go for it. However, if you have set New Year resolutions before, you know it’s much easier to talk about them than to do them. In 2020, YouGovAmerica found that around 35% of Americans who set New Year’s goals felt they accomplished them.
Nevertheless, a recent survey asked whether people are even setting new goals for the year at all, and found that only 29% of Americans will set goals for 2022. Although the odds of meeting our new year goals might not be the best, if we look at why people often fail, we notice that there are common mistakes we can plan to avoid and increase our chances of success. Among them, psychologists have discussed the importance of setting the right goals and making sure you are ready to start.
At the beginning of the year, surveys have found that most people aim for self-improvement and healthier lifestyle goals. Some people start the year strong, but their efforts eventually fade away after a couple of months, while others can share great success stories about their one-year journey. Regardless of how successful you’ve been with your past New Year’s resolutions, this year we challenge you to truly give yourself a fair trial. Give yourself the chance to grow, explore your potential, and experiment with different activities, environments, and strategies.
In this post we have gathered 5 of our favorite tips for successful behavior change journeys:

1. Create Your Behavioral Strategies.

Although it might seem weird to think about strategies to live your daily life, here in PG, we can’t work without them. Strategies can be used in many areas to help us engage in purposeful actions that lead to a goal. Since most human activity happens outside our awareness and conscious control, implementing your behavioral strategies will help you influence which activities you engage in and how you engage them.
Read more about influencing your behavior on our Human Behavior blog post.
This year, we encourage you to design strategies that will allow you to avoid unhelpful behaviors and strategies to engage in what you need to do. Remember to make it your own and focus on making it effective for your particular lifestyle and environment. You will probably have to try different ideas before finding one that works for you, but remember that perseverance is key. It’s okay if a strategy feels awkward, get creative and look for ways to make them fun.
Furthermore, I found that reading out loud helped me understand the content and avoid reading sentences over and over again. So when I have a reading task, I know I have to work somewhere alone, otherwise, the task will be much harder for me or my reading out loud could distract others from their tasks. You can discover more strategies on our LinkedIn page.

2. Take Brief Moments to Think & Write.

Taking 10-15 minutes to reflect or think about something can help us generate new ideas, identify and consider important details to make more informed decisions. While writing is a way of materializing and developing our ideas so we can have them close by in case we forget or want to add more thoughts. Before you plan or set goals for this new year, think about your last year’s highlights, worst struggles, and write down what you learned from them.
Remember, you are thinking about a whole year’s worth of lessons and experiences, so we recommend summarizing with bullet points and keywords that indicate you acted upon them! Think about what worked for you last year and what didn’t. Moreover, make sure you consider what you did, not just what you intended or wanted. You can also try this when setting behavior strategies to meet your goals.

3. Keep Track

Keeping track of our one-year journey helps us make the project official, keeps us engaged, and measures progress. Additionally, activity tracking is incredibly useful when learning about yourself. It is similar to how businesses utilize user data analytics to know their customer. We can benefit from tracking our data to understand our daily decisions and satisfactions.
Tracking your journey can include information such as: 
   -Plans to meet your goals
   -Strategies you will use to support those plans
   -And any other detail you consider important.
Leave some space to add any facts you learn about yourself. Additionally, you can use a calendar and establish checkpoint dates to check your progress and update your tracking log. Being aware of how certain factors make you feel, what motivates and discourages you, what leaves you more satisfied, what is more effective, are just a few of the details that can help you make the best out of your efforts.
Pro tip: We encourage that you keep your log somewhere accessible. This could be a habit tracking app, your notes on your phone, or a notebook that you can keep in your bag.

4. Set Reminders or Make Sticky Notes

With so much going on all the time, alarms and reminders are great to help us get everything done. Particularly, when we introduce a new activity to our routine, no matter how committed we feel, it is very easy to just forget it the first couple of times. Depending on the goal, we can use alarms and/or sticky notes to guide us into doing what we have to do. Be strategic. Set up as many alarms and sticky notes as you need. As an example, I have found alarms work best for me when I am on the move and sticky notes are great for the car or at home.

5. Be Flexible, Take it Easy, And Have Fun with it.

Planning involves an attempt to predict the future, but making inaccurate predictions is inevitable, so don’t stress when things don’t go as expected. Plans should be evaluated and updated throughout the journey because they are always subject to change. Since emergencies will often happen, being flexible and including room for interruptions in your plans is important to avoid feeling like your efforts are worthless.
The whole point of this journey is to increase satisfaction with yourself or something close to you, so if you think the process is making you anxious or stressed, no matter how bad, just stop, take a moment to go back to basics, and keep going. In fact, readjusting is better than giving up and can give you the feeling of a fresh start.
When you have detailed your attainable goal, we also recommend the following science-based strategies from behavioral scientist and author Katy Milkman:
   -Friends can help you commit by joining you on the journey or by helping you stay on track and holding you accountable. So share your plans with your friends, and they will also help you make it fun.
   -Planning details about when and where you will follow through. Katy Milkman suggests you should make a cue-based plan to tell you when to act.
   -Making yourself pay for not completing a task. Penalties are more powerful than rewards, so a system where you have to give money or time if you don’t follow through helps you do so.
   -Make sure you enjoy the process. If you focus more on enjoying the process than being efficient you are more likely to continue longer.
Using these tips can help you learn more about yourself and your potential. Planning or tracking our lives may not be something we are used to, but they are great activities to achieve a lifestyle change. Don’t worry whether it will be easy or hard, but rather focus on how you will give yourself a fair trial.
Did you enjoy this Blog? Tell us which resolutions you want to accomplish this new year.
Keep the fun going by reading our blogs on How to Go From Failure to Success and Adaptive Thinking to help you gain a new perspective when you need it.

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