Writing down resolutions for the new year

How to make your resolutions work

It is the first Monday back of the new year and while many are still frolicking on holidays there are also many back to the work grindstone. Whatever you are doing no doubt you will have been making some resolutions in the last few days. No matter how resolutely you might regard the “new year resolution” thing as a bunch of baloney (is “bunch” the correct collective noun for baloney?) it is hard as a new year begins not to promise yourself to do some things a little differently. As you make those resolutions though you also carry the memories of last year’s resolutions; some of which may not exactly have come to fruition. If you want to have a little more faith in this year’s “promises to self” then a new study might be able to help you out.

The question prompts you think about the issue, whatever it may be, and so you become engaged and seek to resolve whatever feelings come up through future behaviour.

The new study involved looking at more than 100 studies examining a phenomenon known as the “question-behaviour effect”. In essence this effect means that asking people about performing a certain behaviour increases the likelihood that they will do it in the future. So if you are asked, “Will you recycle?” the question causes a psychological response that can influence your behaviour when you get a chance to recycle. The question prompts you think about the issue, whatever it may be, and so you become engaged and seek to resolve whatever feelings come up through future behaviour.

The review of the studies found that the question-behaviour effect is strongest when used to encourage personal and social behaviours around things like eating or volunteering. Overall though questioning was found to produce changes in human behaviour across a wide range of areas.

So rather than saying to yourself “Don’t eat so much sugar!” you might be better off asking “Will I eat less sugar this year?” The questions that you ask yourself really can define the life you live.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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