We all have been there and the data concurs... we fail 80% at keeping #newyearresolutions. But what is it that those 20% resolutions have that makes them stick around? There is some cool science that makes you successful, so let's take a peek!
Miltenberger's seminal work on behavior modification outlines a process of how new behaviors take root. It is through the process of Shaping, Chaining, Extinction, and Reinforcing. At #PBJAM, we call this framework #SCHEAR as in sheers to cut ribbons to a new you!
You identified a new behavior and shaped it in your mind as to what it would feel like and how you will execute it. You reinforced a behavior at the expense of other (often contrary) behavior (e.g. putting on footwear before stepping outside as a behavior against stepping outside barefoot) i.e. by putting the other behavior to extinction. You also chained the new behavior to an existing behavior. Taking our footwear example, you already put on clothes before stepping outside and now have chained putting footwear on as a tag-along behavior. The reinforcement came via safety for your feet, protection from heat and cold, and social acceptance.
Now think about the other 80% of the resolutions that failed... and many a time, you will find that the contributor to the failure was one of the four: Shaping, Reinforcing, Chaining, or Extinction.
Now coming to your 2023 resolutions, you have already shaped the resolutions, either by thinking about them or writing them down. Now, think of an existing behavior that you can chain your new resolution to. Write that down as well as a trigger or cue for your new resolution. Think of reinforcing steps (like small celebrations along your journey) and write them down. Lastly, think of any behaviors that would prevent you from acting on your resolution and mark them for extinction! Remember, this is a process and your consistency will pay off!
Curious about another scientific approach to making your new year's resolutions more successful? Have a read of this short blog post by Susan Weinschenck.
The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts by John C Norcross and Dominic Vangarelli, Journal of Substance Abuse Volume 1, Issue 2, 1988–1989, Pages 127-134
Behavior Modification Principles and Procedures by Raymond G. Miltenberger, 6th ed. Cengage Learning, ch. 9,11,14 and 15