‘Man is a creature of habit’
Everyone here knows it because it is a common phenomenon: you resolve to do something and then you simply don’t do it. ‘From now on I will workout more! Tomorrow I’ll quit smoking! I will visit my friends more often!’ All of those are resolutions that every one of us has made at least once. Especially the New Year’s resolutions are a prime example for our fondness for overhasty resolutions. At the end of the year, when we look back, we realize that we haven’t lived up to the expectation that we have posed upon ourselves. Thus, every year we start into the next year with the same old resolutions, but this time… yeah, you know the end to this.
But everything is not lost!
aerobis gives you some tips on how to keep up your resolutions and make them a reality.
Most of the times the resolutions should turn into habits. This can be defined as follows:
‘A habit, from the standpoint of psychology, is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.” Habitual behavior often goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting it, because a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks. Habits are sometimes compulsory.’ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habit; accessed: 9/9/14) So the difference between a resolution and a habit is that you have to actively choose to make a resolution a reality, whereas with a habit you don’t have to ‘engage in self-analysis’ when to actually do it. We don’t think about it, we just do it. But why is it so hard for most of us to make resolutions a reality and to keep them up for more than a few days?
The key: the desired behavior has to be appealing out of motivational reasons and must then be reinforced by rewards. The present state of psychology is that some habits can be internalized in a couple of days (orderliness, fastening your seatbelt when driving etc.). Others may need years (e.g. diet, alcohol consumption or other addictive substances).
Regular exercise is also one of the behaviors that are hard to internalize and turn into a habit. The background here is that habits are meant to make our lives easier.
We are genetically doomed
Looking at it from an evolutionary standpoint it was more or less critical to our survival to internalize ritualistic behavior in order to save resources. ‘Athletic abstinence’ is the immediate and logical result. Today’s technological advancements allow us to have a energy-saving daily routine. Don’t burn a single calorie if you don’t have to! There might be an ice age or drought right around the corner.
Breaking free from this genetically predisposed laziness can be very hard. It is possible, though! The motivation for change can lie in the improvement of the outer appearance, which is important for the self-esteem, or in the fear of health issues, in the pure fun of the activity itself, or in the appeal of the challenge. You just have to start.
Get a training buddy. Or train in a group. Sometimes it can help to measure yourself against others in competition. If you feel like you can’t bring yourself to working out or even driving to the gym just think about how good and content you will feel after the workout. Compare that to the feeling you will have if you don’t go and you start feeling bad about it. If you decide to go even though you don’t feel like it out of laziness (or whatever small reasons we design just to give us an excuse) you will have a unique and well-deserved sense of accomplishment. This feeling is definitely better than feeling bad about not sticking to your workout schedule.
And if you reward yourself from time to time (but not with junk food!) and the results start coming in there is actually a good chance to turn a resolution into a habit.