Sticking to your resolutions

Having trouble making that New Years resolution stick? 

UBC professor Heather Gainforth says look for the ‘culprit’ to help you nail your goal.

Gainforth has a strategy and can offer specific tips to help you nail your resolution.

Professor Gainforth teaches in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences and researches methods to help people engage in positive behaviours.

"We do our own detective work by talking to individuals about the reasons why they do not engage in the behaviour. To change behaviour you need the same three things," she said.

Those things include:

  1. Capability: You need to have the physical ability and knowledge of how to do the behaviour. 
  2. Opportunity: You need to have the time, resources and social groups that allow you to engage in the behaviour.
  3. Motivation: you need to see the benefits of the behaviour, have confidence and must want to make the change.

"For example, your New Year’s resolution may be to go swimming twice a week. You may have the motivation but not know how to swim and you may not have a swim pass. Your culprit would be opportunity and capability," Gainforth she said. 

"To begin swimming, you will need to address these barriers. You may need to take swimming lessons or ask a friend to help you learn. You would also need a swimming pass and make sure it fits in your budget,".

A SMART goal can help you reach what your heart desires.  These goals require you to set a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based goal.

"Once you set a SMART goal, it is important to have specific plans for how you are going to change your behaviour and handle stressful situations. If your New Year’s resolution involves getting active, you need to plan exactly when, where and how you plan to exercise,"Gainforth adds.

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