View: New Year Resolution, can you form habits by making a decision one fine day? – Economic Times

View: New Year Resolution, can you form habits by making a decision one fine day? – Economic Times

Poorna Rajpal had never been one of those people passionate about sports or working out. “I used to hate jogging. I still do,” says the Gurgaon-based artist and interior designer. But when she was turning 30, she wanted to mark the milestone by doing something outside her comfort zone. For Rajpal, that turned out to be joining the CrossFit gym near her home. It has now been six years and the 36-year-old continues to be consistent with her daily sessions, even scheduling our call in such a way that she would not miss her 6 pm session. “With CrossFit, I felt a sense of community, everyone motivates each other.

And for someone who had never seen any progress in a gym, seeing what I was capable of here changed my whole mindset about fitness,” she says. It’s tempting to put Rajpal’s transformation —reminiscent of an inspiring “How It Started, How It’s Going” meme — down to sheer determination and will power. You might even catch yourself wishing you had similar resolve as you jot down your resolutions for 2022. But experts in behavioural science will tell you that Rajpal’s success may have less to do with will power and more to do with a bunch of other factors. But, first, what is it about the new year or a milestone year, which has us thinking that, yes, this is the time for change? Katy Milkman, the James G Dinan professor (operations, information and decisions) at the Wharton School and co-director of The Behaviour Change for Good Initiative, says moments that feel like new beginnings make us feel more disconnected from our past missteps. “On January 1, you can look back at failures to achieve various goals in the prior year and say, ‘That was the old me, but the new me will be different,’” says Milkman, author of How To Change: The Science of Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. That disconnect, she explains, makes us feel more optimistic about our capacity to change and leads us to set more goals than we ordinarily would. Unfortunately, deciding to change something about ourselves — however firm that decision — and actually changing are two very different things, as most of us who make shiny new year resolutions would know all too well. Or, as Wendy Wood, professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California, puts it, “You don’t form habits by making decisions.” Most of us make a resolution because we think we can make our lives better in some way and then we try to talk ourselves into the reasons for this and use all our willpower. This is effective only in the short-term, if at all. “You learn new habits only through repeatedly doing the same thing over and over,” says Wood, author of Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick. Otherwise, we end up pitting our willpower and motivation against our old habits — and we probably won’t win.

“Eventually, people just go back to doing what they did before. And that’s the standard experience, I think, of most people with New Year’s resolutions.” The central problem in changing oneself is how to make your behaviour and choices consistent across different points of time, says Pavan …….


Bad habits