Happy New Year — the time of year when most of us are wholeheartedly engaged in our new year resolutions, determined that this year will be different. In reality, many of us are recommitting to the same resolutions we embraced this time last year!
In Susan David’s (speaker and author, “Emotional Agility”) recent blog post, she reflects that, too often, we commit to sweeping changes rather than making small subtle changes that, over time, have greater chances of steering us in the direction of our goals. She refers to this as the “tiny tweaks principle.” Below are four tactics Susan outlined in her post that can add up to big change. This year, consider what tiny tweaks you can infuse in your day-to-day activities that can support your 2019 goals.
- The No-Brainer: Switch up your environment so that when you’re hungry, tired, stressed, or rushed, the choice most aligned with your values is also the easiest. If you’re trying to shave off a few pounds, then set yourself up for success by stocking your shelves with fresh fruit rather than cookies. Now your only choice for a midnight snack is one you won’t regret in the morning.
- The Piggyback: Add a new behavior onto an existing habit. To continue with the weight loss example, this might mean turning your routine walk with your dog into a routine jog, or doing some jumping jacks when you tune into the nightly news.
- The Precommitment: Anticipate obstacles and prepare for them with “if-then” strategies. If my boss makes a doughnut run, then I’ll treat myself to the juicy pear I’ve already got stored in the break room fridge. If I’m tempted to sleep through my morning spin class, then I’ll remind myself how much better I’ll feel for having gone.
- The Obstacle Course: Offset a positive vision with thoughts of potential challenges. In one study, researchers advised half of the participants in a weight loss program to envision themselves with new svelte figures and the other half to imagine situations where they’d be tempted to cheat on their diet. A year on, the second group had shed more weight. Optimism is important, but it’s most effective when paired with realism.
Note: Not familiar with Susan David PhD? Check out her TED talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_the_gift_and_power_of_emotional_courage