I suspect any day is as good as another to change one’s life. The start of January is popular since the year ahead is a clean slate. Change seems more possible with 12 months to play with.
I wonder how many people pledging to make a change in their lives in 2013 know exactly what they are going to achieve by taking action ?
It seems to me there are complex psychological processes at work behind the scenes as change is mulled over. It doesn’t matter whether that change entails learning a foreign language; eating five portions of fruit and vegetables per day; or doing something about the extra weight gained before Christmas, by the time this year’s summer holiday begins.
Thankfully someone has already done the thinking about the motivation for change in one area, health, which may have a wider application.
Dr Tony Westbury, a sports psychologist from Edinburgh Napier University, and ultra-distance runner Dr Andrew Murray are advocates for an active lifestyle. They make the case for abandoning a life spent chiefly sitting down, in favour of one involving regular exercise. They told BBC Scotland that:
‘The most important aspect of this [shift to an active life] is your motivation for changing. Psychologists refer to motivation as the ‘why’ of behaviour – why we do what we do… motivationally the person who changes their behaviour out of sense of guilt or duty is different to the person who changes their behaviour because they love the activity’.
If it is possible to generalise about change from that specific example, success in a new goal is more likely to come from a positive desire to benefit from a situation, rather than a negative wish to get away from something else.
So that focus on motivation could turn the initial example I mentioned that ‘I don’t like the extra weight I am carrying and I should do something about it’ into a more positive, commitment to ‘feel good about being a proportionate weight for my height and age by time the family goes on holiday in August’.
A clear motivating force provides one strong element which improves the likelihood of success. The next steps in the example probably involve a calendar, some new trainers and – let’s be honest – a fair bit of will power.
At least with a positive end point in mind the journey from here to there is a bit more manageable.
- Successful Slimmers Do It For Themselves! (medicalnewstoday.com)