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Replace resolutions with a plan

How many times have we failed after declaring that we will stop or start doing something by way of a New Year’s Resolution? Many.

We succeed in education, medicine, business, politics, sports or whatever we are good at. But, when it comes to inner focus, instead of outer focus, we fail more than we succeed. But why?

NBC’s Julie Compton recently wrote a piece outlining a new approach to answering the question after speaking with doctors who study human behavior.

In general, doctors say we need a plan, not just the same hopeful old resolution. 

This plan is similar to laying the groundwork in order to be good at our activities.

Examples include business plans, case strategies, teaching outlines and medical treatment agenda. 

Compton spoke to John Norcross, a psychology professor at Scranton University, who has tracked and studied resolutions for more than 30 years. According to his research, it takes about three months for a change to become routine. After six months, about 40 percent of people will stick to their old resolutions.

If we make it to six months, chances increase that we will break or build a habit for life. But we need an action plan to get there. Here are some ideas from doctors and personal experience that provide the best chance at winning the battle:

4Detailed plan — I use Google Calendar. Without it, I would be lost. I also add detailed planning regarding work, exercise, etc. When the plans on the calendar are represented in detail for a while, they become second nature.

4Control our environment — When it comes to making successful changes, our environment plays a major role. Cues that can trigger our bad habit should be removed from the home, says Ellen Berkman, director of the University of Oregon’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab. Certain rituals can also trigger negative habits, like smoking after a meal.

4Setbacks — We can handle a setback in only two ways — stay on the ground and give up or get up, dust ourselves off and prepare for the next challenge.

Many of us, like me, desire to “drive the bus,” meaning that we want to control our lives. 

Although quite stubborn, I have learned that if I can just get out of the way and allow God to lead me when challenges present themselves, the outcomes are better because I am leaning on my heavenly father to pull me through. There is no human power that can do this.

I wish everyone a safe and prosperous New Year.

I pray that you and I will be successful in our plans as God smiles down on us, his children.