Blog post

How to keep 2020 resolutions on track

Dr Ainslea Cross, Academic Lead for Health Psychology at the University of Derby Online Learning, talks about how we can apply lessons from health psychology research to keep our resolutions on track and work towards our life and health goals.

8 January 2020

The fading memory of New Year celebrations and return to our usual routines often presents a challenge to the New Year’s resolutions we promised ourselves to work on. Here Dr Ainslea Cross, Academic Lead for Health Psychology at the University of Derby Online Learning, talks about how we can apply lessons from health psychology research to keep our resolutions on track and work towards our life and health goals.

Whilst setting goals can be energising and motivating, at Derby we have been researching the downside of fixed goals. In fact, it has been shown in behavioural experiments that dwelling on thoughts about the positive aspects of having achieved our goals (e.g. picturing how great it will feel to lose weight or be fit) can be de-energising for some and they fail to take action, which means the behaviour change they want to achieve doesn’t happen.

Here’s how to avoid that trap and to keep your New Year’s resolutions on track now that we are back to the usual routines:

All these tips help us to continually develop our psychological flexibility: the ability to take effective action, guided by values, with awareness of what’s happening now, with openness and focus. We can also develop more self-acceptance and compassion for ourselves, for all those times when things don’t go to plan, fail or we get hurt.

No matter how many times our resolutions go off track, we can use the ACT approach:

A – Accept our thoughts and feelings

C – Choose a valued direction

T – Take action mindfully, with an if-then plan.

Our current research is now focusing on values and action planning for supporting health enhancing goals.

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at pressoffice@derby.ac.uk or call 01332 593953.