This new year, resolve to plan for success
Your chances of fulfilling New Year's resolutions – and reducing your risk for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis comorbidities like heart disease and obesity – are better than you think
About 44 percent of people who resolve to make changes in the New Year actually succeed, according to studies conducted by John Norcross, distinguished professor of psychology at University of Scranton in Pennsylvania and author of "Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing your Goals and Resolutions."
Norcross said there are good data to support what works and what doesn't. Here, he explains how to make sure you're one of the successful 44 percent.
- Plan and prepare. Set a realistic goal, not a grandiose one. For example, aim to lose 10 pounds and keep it off rather than trying to lose 50. Then create an action plan to reach your goal, Norcross said. "Before January 1, think specifically about what you'll do to counter problem behaviors and practice incorporating those changes."
- Bolster self-confidence. "Having confidence you can succeed is a potent predictor of success, and making a plan builds confidence—you see a clear path forward and feel ready to take it," said Norcross. Ask for support from people who've already been successful in reaching the goal you hope to reach. Read about others' success, which also boosts belief in one's potential to succeed. If you are not sure where to find support try the National Psoriasis Foundation's One-to-One Mentor Program. Mentors can offer support and help you set goals.
- Aim for incremental progress. Making a meaningful behavior change is a step-by-step process, Norcross said. "The idea that you have to make a dramatic change or it's not worth doing is a set-up for resignation and failure.Self change is a process and a skill, and like any other skill, such as playing tennis or becoming an accomplished baker, improvement is gradual and ongoing, with the key being persistent—but not instantaneous—movement toward the goal."
- Prepare for slips and avoid self-blame. Expect occasional slips and plan what you'll do when they happen, Norcross said, who adds that getting stuck in self-blame is your least productive option. "In our studies, blaming oneself for slips or imperfect success is one of the strong predictors of failure," he said. "By self-denigrating, people focus solely on what went wrong and begin to resign themselves to failure." He notes slips can even improve self-confidence when you expect and react positively to them.