How to Keep A New Year’s Resolution

How to Keep A New Year’s Resolution

It’s that time of year again: the clock striking twelve, fireworks igniting the night sky, a New York Ball dropping, and the welcoming cheers of a new year. With this new year, we make promises to our aspirations – losing weight, running a marathon, eat healthier, be less stressed –only to be lost within time, life and habit. However, let’s make this year different.

            This year can and will be different through the consideration of behavioral psychology. Behavioral Psychology is a theory of learning based on the idea that all behaviors are developed through interactions with the environment. Thus, our responses are conditioned by our relations to a specific environment. Therefore, to retrain ourselves, we must overcome our initial associations with a new consequence. This can be done with operant conditioning.

            Operant Conditioning occurs when we learn to associate our own behavior (or our response) and its consequence. We, therefore, repeat behaviors with good results, we cut down on behaviors with bad results. Hence, the Law of Effect states a rewarded behavior is likely to recur. Thus, we must shape our decisions and behaviors to mirror the desired result. However, to shape, one must utilize reinforces, anything that increases the desired response. There are two types:

  • Positive Reinforcement which strengthens a behavior with a pleasurable stimulus after a response. This is like the gold star sticker in elementary education, where desirable behavior results in a reward.
  • Negative Reinforcement which strengthens a behavior by removing something unpleasant. This is not a punishment. Instead, the reward is removing something “undesirable.” Like the seat belt alarm in your car, there is an annoying beeping until you buckle up. In contrast, punishment discourages a behavior by adding something terrible.

Now, this is the structure of the operant conditioning method. For it to be impactful, one must have scheduled intervals of reinforcement. This can come in the form of two styles:

  • Continuous reinforcement occurs when the reinforcement is given every time the behavior is done.
  • Partial Reinforcement occurs when the reinforcement is not given after every behavior. This can further be sectioned into a
    • fixed-ratio ~ reinforcer is provided after a set number of behaviors
    • variable ratio ~ reinforcer is given after a random amount of behaviors
    •  fixed interval ~ reinforcer is given after a set time
    • variable interval ~ reinforcer is provided after a random time

Let your New Year’s Resolution Success. Follow the following outlined steps to help you succeed.

  1. What is your resolution? __________________________

*Remember to make it simple, a goal you can work up to and build upon. Climb to hill, before the mountain*

2. Identify a target behavior to be modified.

Josephine just jamming with Perry on the mitts.

This can be an undesirable behavior that you would like to eliminate or a desirable behavior that you would like to strengthen.

3. After identifying the target behavior, monitor your behavior and try to generate a plausible explanation for why the problem exists. What is reinforcing the behavior? Why do you want to change this behavior?

4. Provide yourself with a positive reinforcer that is contingent on specific improvements in the target behavior.

*For example: 1 mile = 1 token. 1 token = 1 cup of coffee from Starbucks. Remember, the reinforcer should be something that has a positive association with YOU.

5. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are new behaviors. Thus, take the time to shape your behavior, so you can succeed in the long run.

6. Lastly, to what degree was the program successful? If you succeed, propose a new plan to help maintain the change and provide the opportunity for more progress. If it failed, offer an alternative method that be more successful in the future. Try, try again!!!

Best of luck with your New Year’s Resolutions. If you need help with personal, fitness and health goals, please check out Zenith Active. We are boxing gym community with a positive, welcoming atmosphere with comprehensive, personalized group training and amazing personal trainers to help you achieve all your fitness goals.

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