Five Ways Psychology Can Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolution

In a recent article from National Public Radio, a study revealed that nearly 11 percent of respondents claim addiction to sugar soaked foods and drink. This awareness of dependence typically steers people around this time of year to develop a resolution to change their eating habits.

The only problem is that fewer people are making and keeping resolutions because of previous failed attempts at adhering to them, according to the New Republic.

Thanks to 20th century humanistic and cognitive psychology, there are ways to build healthy goals and keep them if you have the mettle and patience to reap the benefits.

Here are five tips stemming from psychological therapy techniques:

Focus on the inside
Too often resolutions are developed for social reasons: we what to look thinner, be healthier or appear attractive to suitors. While this goal is possible, people typically get wrapped up in other people's perception of themselves.

Develop a goal that focuses on you first. Maslow's hierarchy of needs shows that we need to address our basic needs before we worry about the needs of others. How can you help a child with math if you do not understand the math concept yourself?

Intrinsic benefits, not extrinsic rewards
Shift your thinking from rewarding yourself with an outside token like snacks, treats or mad money. Studies have shown that when we concentrate solely on outside benefits it diminishes the internal joys and reasons why we set goals. If you are going to commit to a resolution, commit to something that benefits you for your sake. If your goal is to eat healthier, make the motivation something that makes you feel valuable on the inside.

Delay gratification
Walter Michel's long-term study of children known as the Marshmallow Effect showed that those who delayed gratification after waiting for a period tend to have higher senses of self-satisfaction, confidence and long-term social benefits. Those who sought immediate gratification later in life were more likely to be envious, impulse and financially unstable.

Be patient with the results of your resolution and you may just find the intended and unintended benefits add up.

Short cycle check-ups and final assessment
Another problem with resolutions is that they do not typically have a well constructed plan to achieve the goal in a reasonable manner. The goal is set and the person hopes for the best. Consider setting up periodic check-ups on a calendar to monitor your progress and have a reasonable deadline for achievement. Too soon and you may become discourages; too late and you may forget you even had a resolution.

Be positive and realistic
Resolutions that fail are typically lofty, improbable and beyond your reach at that particular time. Take the time to consider if the resolution is too bold. If you stumble along the way, it's okay! You're human! Be positive, stay resilient and bounce back to your goal with the understanding that mistakes and errors in judgment are natural acts.

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