The Guardian has a timely article examining why New Year’s resolutions fail: Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire… and his team had asked 700 people about their strategies for achieving new year resolutions. Their goals ranged from losing weight or giving up smoking to gaining a qualification or starting a better relationship. Of the 78% who failed, many had focused on the downside of not achieving the goals; they had suppressed their cravings, fantasised about being successful, and adopted a role model or relied on willpower alone…. On the other hand, people who kept their resolutions tended to have broken their goal into smaller steps and rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these. They also told their friends about their goals, focused on the benefits of success and kept a diary of their progress.
People who planned a series of smaller goals had an average success rate of 35%, while those who followed all five of the above strategies had a 50% chance of success, the study found. “Many of the most successful techniques involve making a plan and helping yourself stick to it,” Wiseman said…. Other strategies that helped people to achieve their goals included making only one resolution at a time and treating occasional lapses in the plan as just temporary setbacks. Since I’m about 20 pounds lighter than I was this time last year (but 15 pounds from where I really want to be), I read this with particular interest. There’s plenty of research that indicates that regimens involving self-denial, and require immediate sacrifices for long-term gains, are hard for people to keep to: this is why retirement accounts that automatically deduct money from your paycheck are more reliable than your own intention
to put away some money every month for retirement. I think Wiseman’s findings are consistent with that work. Like a lot of people who’ve fought with their weight, I have a pretty complicated relationship with food. Some of the foods I overdo most easily are really simple, like Ritz Crackers (go figure). It’s also something of a narcotic: I find if I eat more than a modest lunch, I get dumb. But unlike smoking, it’s not a relationship you can ever end: I’m stuck with eating. For me, the first critical discovery about dieting was that the miracle key to weight loss is… eat less food. It’s really that simple. Not exercise, not Atkins (which worked for a while, but then didn’t, and feels pretty ecologically unusustainable anyway), not some other diet; just a lot less food. And making that work, in turn, required paying
a lot of attention to little things. I figured out that the time of day I’m most likely to have trouble with food is before dinner (and to a lesser degree after). I’ve learned what diversions work: investors in gum companies had a very good 2009 thanks to me,
and I drink vast quantities of water and tea, mainly for the satiety effect. I also realized that eating certain ways creates problems: eating breakfast while standing over the kitchen sink may have worked when I was a grad student and only had two eggs and a moldy lemon in the fridge, but these days, it’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve learned that when I have a bad day, you have to not get too discouraged, and just start over again the next day. Or the next year. news from askpang.typepad.com – Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World. “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty,
the ocean does not become dirty.” “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.” “If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.” 1. Change yourself. “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” 2. You are in control. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” 3. Forgive and let it go. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” 4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere. “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” 5. Take care of this moment. “I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.” 6. Everyone is human. “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.” “It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.
It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” 7. Persist. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” 8. See the good in people and help them. “I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.” “Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.” “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles;
but today it means getting along with people.” 9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” “Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” 10. Continue to grow and evolve. ”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
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