Helping resolutions stick

January 9, 2017

Being a family caregiver, you might have made some New Year’s resolutions. And like most, you may have already lost your momentum. So many good intentions…

– Call or visit once a week
– Fuss less over details
– Make time to exercise
– Practice gratitude

Stop beating yourself up for “lack of willpower.” Willpower is so overrated! Environmental cues trigger habits without even involving the decision-making part of your brain.

Support your goal by addressing the initial trigger. For example:

Avoid temptation. Successful habit-changers outsmart themselves. It’s not that these people are any better at resisting a candy bar, but they avoid situations where candy will be around. If you know you tend to lose your cool when your Mom starts to praise your sister, excuse yourself out of the situation and end the phone call or visit.

Set reminders. Many people who have been unable to keep their resolution say they just simply forgot. Start a new habit by putting a physical reminder in plain sight. Tape a cue word such as “relax” beside your toothbrush. Or keep your walking shoes at the door.

Put it on the calendar. If you want to do something bad enough, schedule it! For example, make yourself an appointment to call your relative. Put it in your phone or on your calendar for an automated reminder.

Create a “space.” People who want to get more exercise in find that going to the gym sets them up to focus by removing distractions. If writing is your thing, you might setup a cozy writing corner. Or select only upbeat music for the drive to Dad’s house.

If you have faulted in your resolution, it’s not too late. Try again, but this time while focusing on the cues to support your successful resolution.