Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Resolutions - help from Randy Park

Tips for making and keeping New Years Resolutions

This is a summary from an interview that Global Television conducted with Randy Park

Here is a short recap of some of the points:

When most people talk about New Year's Resolutions they are referring to breaking a habit. Basically they want to do something differently. For successful New Year's Resolution strategies, it is important to understand the nature of habits.

Habits are automatic thinking - thinking without consciously thinking - walking, getting dressed, driving a car. You can see several common characteristics:

1. the examples listed are all behaviours you have learned2. you learned these through repetition3. they are all useful4. they are self reenforcing - every time you do them they become more ingrained5. they are all controlled by your brain

Since most of the habits that we learn are helpful, our brain has evolved to make it hard to change habits. (If it was easy, we might forget how to ride a bicycle if we didn't do it for a while.) The "hardware" of our brain where the habits are stored can't distinguish between a good habit and a bad habit - it will resist changing either.

Here are some suggestions for setting up and continuing successful resolutions:

1. Acknowledge it is hard. Your conscious will is trying to change an automatic learned behaviour, and we've seen your brain resists that change for very good reasons.

2. Make sure it is possible. Let's say you're on a volunteer committee and you resolve to be on time for your meetings from now on. You calculate that if you leave work right at 5:00 p.m. you can make the meetings on time. But if in reality you are seldom able to leave at 5:00 (for one reason or another) then realistically it will be very difficult to keep the resolution. Think things through to make sure there is a possibility of success.

3. Acknowledge there will be setbacks. DON"T fall into trap of predicting one future because if you have a setback, you might be tempted to admit defeat and tell yourself that your resolution won't work since you have proof that your view of what would happen is not accurate.

4. Plan for the setbacks - what will you do? If you are quitting TV and accidentally watch a show, what will you do when it is finished? If you have a plan, it might be to finish watching the show, then immediately pick up a book (rather than saying to yourself, oh well might as well keep on watching)

5. It may be helpful to have support, for two reasons. One, they can remind you - bring into consciousness - what you were so clear on when you started, especially as your resolution gets overwhelmed by day to day life. Two, they can provide help if you do slip with your resolution.

6. Sometimes a physical reminder is useful for some people. Maybe it is a note sitting on your desk; I use alarms during the day that remind me "am I following my planned priorities?"
The key is to keep conscious both the new behaviour you want to do as well as the moments when you slip toward the old behaviour. The goal is to make your new behaviour as automatic as your old one was!

Randy Park

Upcoming Event... Randy Park and three other professional speakers are staging an evening titled "Life Skills Business Success - Essentials for Thriving in Turbulent Times." This is a fundraiser for Laura's Hope, a charity that is actively funding research for Huntington's Disease.

It will be January 26 in the evening, in Burlington; for more information go to

Randy's second book The Prediction Trap is now in select stores. Eric Reguly of The Globe and Mail says "Randy Park's stimulating book is a must-read for anyone who wants to confront the temptation to sacrifice long-term planning for short-term gratification."
Phone: 416-703-9202 Fax: 416-703-9198
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