• Jeannine Jannot, Ph.D.

Logging in the New Year

Here we are again at the verge of a new year. A time when we invariably reflect back on what has been and optimistically look forward to what may be. Most of us, at least consider setting goals for the coming year, but likely with lackluster energy behind the commitment. After all, this isn’t our first rodeo. The recesses of our minds harbor the memories of years of goal-setting that have faded away to disappointment. Why is it so hard to stick with a new plan and change our behavior?

There are many reasons why we fail at making these New Year’s resolutions stick. Oftentimes we bite off way more than we can chew. Typically choosing a goal that is too overwhelming for our brain to get on board with. Breaking down that goal into very small goals that are realistic and achievable is key to sticking with it. Let’s say you want to give up added sugar in your diet. If you go “cold turkey” without your sugar it’s going to be painful…physically and psychologically painful. But, if you decide on a mini-goal that gets you going in the right direction you’ll have a fighting chance. So instead of giving up all added sugar, make your initial goal to give up your nightly bowl of ice cream. If that’s too challenging, start by reducing your nightly bowl of ice cream by half. As you adjust to the change in habit, you can adjust your mini-goals to make gains toward to your larger goal of no added sugar in your diet.

Unlock the Superpower of Logging

Logging our behavior is the most powerful tool we can utilize to effect habit change. It works for just about any behavior. All it requires it writing down or some method of recording whatever it is that we’re trying change. Common things that people log are their food intake, exercise, energy, and sleep. Logging can be done on a piece of notebook paper, a spreadsheet, a calendar or on one of the hundreds of apps designed for the purpose of logging and habit change.

Why does logging work? Studies show that people who log their behavior make better and longer lasting progress than non-loggers. The theory is that the act of logging itself is a measure of commitment and a source of motivation. Those who take the time to log their behavior are constantly reminding themselves of their commitment to their goal. They are being intentional, mindful, and accountable and able to appreciate the small “wins” and rewards that emerge in the earliest stages of change.

So, if you’re considering making a change or a New Year’s resolution, think about how you can break your big goal into small, bite-sized behavioral changes that you can log over time. You hold all the power to effect the positive changes in your life! Go you!

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