2014

What does it mean to be resolute? 

One of my favorite definitions: admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.

Wow, who would not what to be admirably purposeful?

This time of year I start asking around about resolutions and the answers are wide ranging from complete acceptance to utter avoidance.  For some the beginning of the year is a time to hit the reset button and wipe the slate clean and for others it is a time to be annoyed by all the people who ask about resolutions.  Whenever I find a topic that brings such variations in response, I try to figure out what is at the core of these very different emotional responses.  Could it be that people just really just hate New Years Resolutions for no particular reason or is there something more profound going on here?

If it was just a simple hatred of resolutions it wouldn’t give me a whole lot to write about, so I’m going to assume that there is more to this disdain than what meets the eye.

People like doing what they are good at and tend to gravitate toward these types of activities.  For some planning and goals setting is their forte, but for others it is seen as just another way to fail.  It is easy to think back to the years past and all the failed resolutions and want to avoid this disappointment like the plague, but it might not have to be this way.

Why do we fail at our resolutions?

There are a number of reasons fwhy we are unable to keep our resolutions, but I am going to talk about two, taking on too much and not being specific. Here is an example; I want to get healthy, sleep better and be a nicer person.  These are all great goals, but they are not specific or actionable.  In order for us to feel good about the sacrifices we make as we work toward our goals we have to have little wins along the way, like the mile markers that remind us that we are making progress and moving toward our goals.

Stanford researcher, BJ Fogg, showed us that  breaking down a goal into a habit, and then placing structure around that habit will increases the odds of success. Before you can be healthy you need to create smaller habits that will lead your toward your ultimate goal of being healthier.  In most cases we know what we need to do, but we don’t do it.  For example, I want to be healthier is such a huge and loosely defined goal that it is hard to know where the mile markers are therefore the positive re-enforcement is almost impossible to acquire.  It is important to keep the ultimate goal in mind, but break it down into smaller pieces or habits, for example:

1. I am going to drink half my weight in ounces each day
2. I am going to do yoga MWF before work
3. I am going to no eat sweets during the week

BJ Fogg, showed us that we need to break down our larger goals into smaller habits which have done her, but he also told us that we need to create structure around a goal in order to be successful.  This is where a great little free app called “Lift” comes in.

How can a smartphone app help me accomplish my resolutions?

Recently I discovered the app Lift and happy that I did.  It is a great way to break your larger goals into smaller pieces or habits but it is much more than that. Lift allows you to join in with others throughout the world who are trying to accomplish the same thing.  For example, I wanted to start a habit of flossing before bead each night.  I found a group of 54K people who were also trying to do the same thing!  Immediately I don’t feel so alone and know that there is a community of people that I am part of who are trying to do the same thing.

There are also reminders that are set in the app. For example, every night I get a little reminder from my Lift app at 9:30pm that says “remember to floss tonight.”  Reminding me to floss is only part of what the reminders do, they also motivate me.  Typically there will be a message following the reminder that says something to the effect of “if you check in tonight, this will be your 9th night in a row!”  I can’t tell you the number of times that I have been exhausted with no intentions of flossing and I get that little message that motivates me to keep up my habit.

The layout of the app is very simple.  For each habit you are trying to instil, you have a huge green check button that you can click when you complete  your habit and there is a sense of satisfaction when I click that button each night.  Lift will also show you how well you are keeping up with your habit at a glance.  This information is provided in an easy to access and understand format.  A quick glance will give you the motivation that you need to keep up the good work or work a little harder.