20 Jan HOW IS YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION COMING? THIS YEAR IT IS TIME TO SUCCEED!
What is your New Year’s resolution? If you are like most Americans, the resolution will be given up by Super Bowl weekend and things will be back to status quo. But what if things were different this year? What if you succeeded and lost that weight, got in shape, or saved that money? What if 2014 became the year to get things done in a way you have never experienced before? What would you have to do differently in 2014 compared to previous years?
The science of change management, which is what we are speaking about, has come a long way in the past 5 years and it’s time to incorporate these discoveries into achieving our goals.
Let’s start by asking: is knowing what to do enough? As a weight loss expert who has helped hundreds of people lose weight, it is clear that there are many patients who can literally recite encyclopedic knowledge on calorie balance, exercise, food labels, and the latest best seller’s strategy on effective weight loss, but they don’t lose a pound. They know what to do, but are not doing what they know.
Maybe the key is to create or overcome strong emotional issues. In the patients mentioned above, often a life event preceded the significant weight gain. When this occurs there is no question that getting in touch with “what happened” and re-framing the experience in a more empowering and less threatening way makes a difference. However, often there was no preceding trauma or the traumatic experience was resolved through beneficial and significant counseling but no weight loss occurred, suggesting that attention to emotional issues may not be enough by itself.
Perhaps the environment makes the key difference. One Compass client discovered their employees gain, on average, over twenty pounds of weight in the first year they are working in certain departments (and this is not muscle weight – it is good old fashion fat). Employees are not allowed to be out of their seats more than 5 minutes an hour, they are rewarded with food when they achieve performance goals, birthdays are celebrated corporately with large cakes and free soft drinks (there are over 500 employees – more than one birthday per day on average), and long work days are common, leading many to work 10 or more hours a day minimizing the time for non-essential out of work activities like exercise.
Challenging environments are not just created at work. At home, the refrigerator often contains soft drinks, cabinets contain potato chips and cookies are baked and shared as a sign of love. Nutritious food is difficult to find and more expensive than fast food. Unfortunately, many obese children and adults do not have the resources to access nutritious food. So perhaps the reason we fail so frequently is that we are not looking at the bigger picture. Some combination of these factors work together to block our change efforts. What are the results if you address two or three of these issues at the same time? In the next blog, we will look at the interaction between these factors and at what the research is telling us about making sure we win this year with our New Year resolutions!